It is that time of year again! When we jump from one holiday to the next. It starts on Halloween and it works up till the New Year. The turkey is getting warmed up and the decorations are being hung, but have you ever stopped to wonder about holidays in other places?
For instance, have you ever wondered what they celebrate in Japan? What is their Christmas like? Do they have the same traditions we do here in America? Let’s take a look at holidays in Japan.
Let’s start with one that many people celebrate: Christmas. In recent years, Christmas has become a big commercial holiday in Japan. Many families and friends will gather together, take pictures and celebrate this festive day.
However, while Christmas may be joyous, the New Year and Obon, a festival in the summer, are the biggest events on their calendar. For both of these festivals, families are required, by law in fact, to gather at the family house, no matter how far apart they may be, to honor their ancestors.
It is also common around the end of the year for homes to be decorated with Kadomatsu, bamboo and pine. They decorate whatever animal symbolizes the coming year with the traditional zodiac signs.
For instance, 2020 will be the year of the White Metal Rat. They send postcards to friends and family, normally containing lottery numbers.
On New Year’s Eve or Day, the people of Japan will visit their local shrine or temple. There is no wild celebration on this evening, but a bell that is struck 108 times.
This number represents Buddhists and their belief that there are 108 sins or desires. The ringing of the bell is a way to rid the bodies of this evil sin, 107 times before midnight, and once after. A true way to start the year clean and bright in Japan.
Now after the New Year has passed, the holidays may slow down for us, but in Japan, they prepare for yet another very important festival. This festival is known as the Seijin no Hi or the Coming of Age Day.
In Japan, the day you become of age is considered to be 20. It is celebrated on the second Monday of January. The 20 year olds dress up and visit a shrine or go to a municipal ceremony to honor the moment they reached adulthood.
In the past, many young men would wear kimonos with the women, but these days most come in suits. In recent years, the day is often disfigured by rowdy behavior and a lack of respect for the formal aspects of the Coming of Age process.
The rights of becoming an adult, spending the holidays with the family and letting go of sins from the past year, in the end, you could say they do the same things we do, just in a different light.
Many cultures have their light to shine on this festive season, go and explore each and every one of the lights.