Seasonal: Happy Japanese New Year! (Ōmisoka)

Tomorrow is the Japanese New Year, otherwise known as Ōmisoka ( 大晦日). Traditionally, it was held on the final day of the 12th lunar month. With Japan’s switch to using the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, December 31 (New Year’s Eve) is now used for the celebration.

According to wiki: “The last day of each month of the Japanese lunisolar calendar was historically named misoka (晦日). Originally, “miso” was written as 三十, indicating the 30th day, though misoka sometimes fell on the 29th due to the varying lengths of the lunar month. The last day in the 12th lunar month is called ōmisoka (大晦日)—with the 大 indicating it is the final last day of the month for that year—or the “great thirtieth day”. As part of the Meiji Restoration, Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1873, and ōmisoka was set as December 31, or New Year’s Eve. The day is also known by the archaic pronunciation of ōtsugomori (大晦). This is a shortened version of tsukigomori (月隠り), meaning “last day of the month”.

In preparation of celebrating the Japanese New Year, tradition would have you:

  • Clean House
  • Pay Off Debts
  • Drive Out Evil Spirit
  • Welcome Good Luck
  • Bathing

By checking off these chores, it would allow a person to relax and enjoy the festivities of the New Year’s Day.

Throughout Japan, temples prepare amazake for those making their way to shrines to ring in the new year. Amazake is a sweet, low-alcohol drink made from fermented rice. It is often considered a hangover cure in Japan.

So, raise a glass of Amazake and ring in the New Year! I wish you good fortune, luck and a clean house!

Akemashite omedetou. 


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