Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
This is what we say in Japan after it becomes the new year. Japan, unlike many other Asian countries, celebrates New Year on January 1st. Before the Meiji Period we celebrated it using the lunar calender like China still does. In Japan we have many New Year’s traditions.
Many people with go to their local Buddist temple (寺) or Shinto shrine (神社) after midnight on December 31st. People can buy charms called omamori (お守り) that will bring them good luck through the next year. The charms come in different kinds, some for good studies, some for safety while driving, or just general good luck. If you see school children in Japan, they often have these charms dangling from their school satchels.
Ema at a Japanese Shrine
Another thing to do at the temple is buy an ema (絵馬). An ema is a little wooden plaque with a picture painted on the front. A person will write their wishes on the back of it and hang it up in a special place near the shrine for the kami-sama (gods) to read later. If you take the time to read some of the ema you can see that people have many different kinds of wishes. But- a lot of them are from students who wish to pass their entrance exams to high school or university. Sometimes you can also see ema written in different languages like Chinese, Korean or even English!
Sometimes people also buy omikuji (おみくじ). Omikuji are little pieces of paper that tell one’s fortune for the coming year. Daikichi (大吉) is the best. This year was quite funny for us. My husband got daikichi (great fortune), I got chukichi (middle fortune) and my child got shokichi (little fortune). I think that this is a lucky pattern for us. What do you think?
What kind of traditions does your country do for New Year?