December is a very busy and hectic period in Japanese culture that culminates with “Oomisoka,” celebrated the New Year’s Eve. During December, “Bounenkai,” end-of-the-year party, are held by co-workers and friends. In December, end of the year gifts, “Oseibo,” are exchanged within the people who care each other. For example, children send it to their parents and a staff to his boss. People prepare “Nengajo,” Japanese New Year’s postcards for the greeting of new year. Because of those reasons, “Oomisoka” is the busiest day in preparation for welcoming in the New Year.
It is Japanese for extensive cleaning. In contrast to spring-cleaning that is common in the U.S., it is practiced when the weather is cold. Japanese find it critical to welcome a new year with a clean slate. All the works at home, work, and school need to be done before the new year because those activities are considered as a preparation for a new year under the belief of the throwing away of all of bad luck and dirty sins before “Shougatsu,” the new year. During “Oomisoka,” people clean their homes and prepare the traditional meal “Toshi koshi soba.” “Soba” is buckwheat noodles and is eaten when one wishes for a prosperous coming year and long healthy life. At midnight many people visit a Buddhist temple and listen to “Joya no kane.”It means a bell is rung 108 times to remind all the 108 worldly desires that we have to overcome.
On the “Oomisoka,” people try to get rid of their 108 worldly desires to clear their mind to welcome the New Year!
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