Japanese New Year

History

Prior to the Meiji Period, the date of the Japanese New Year was based on the Chinese lunar calendar, just as the contemporary Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese New Year celebrations are. However, in 1873, five years following the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar and the first day of January became and continues to be the official and cultural New Year's Day in modern Japan.

It is also known as Shogatsu, Oshogatsu or Gantan Sai for the Shinto. New Year's is the most important holiday in Japan and most businesses shut down for the first three days for families to gather and spend time together.



Traditions

For some visiting shrine's to pray for the renewal of their heart, prosperity and health in the year to come is part of the celebration. Most people visit family and friends to express their good wishes for the year to come. Dressing on one's best clothing during this celebration is a common practice as well.



Beliefs

Years are traditionally viewed as completely separate, with each new year providing a fresh start. Consequently, all duties are supposed to be completed by the end of the year, while Bonenkai parties ("year forgetting parties") are held with the purpose of leaving the old year's worries and troubles behind.



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