Everywhere in the world, we have unique ways of celebrating the New Year. For those who have been in college, we can reminisce happily on the drunken debauchery of the ringing in the New Year with annoying party favors and smudged mascara. (Or if you’re just that good, you looked flawless.)
Bringing in 2013, I managed to fall over while demonstrating the “Japanese squat” earning myself an unforgettable memory in my friend’s younger sibling’s brain. She still tells the story to my younger sister today.
On my more sober years, 12 grapes are eaten as wishes for the luck for the new year and washed down with grapes that died to make some very fine champagne. Afterwards, we would watch the celebrations world wide on the TV. My parents would call it a night and my siblings and I would continue to drink. What are your traditions?
In order to celebrate the New Year the Japanese way, follow these steps. Wherever you are, I hope your new year was brought in amazingly and in the company of people you care about.
1. Eat New Years Soba
A New Year wouldn’t be complete without it! I’ve never celebrated the Japanese way and one of my friends graciously invited me to eat soba with her family. This soba includes noodles, spam, fish sausage, and leeks. This dish symbolizes longevity for the new year. Her father told me, “Even though the noodle is small, like our lives, we pray for a long one, like a noodle.”
2. Have some drinks!
I think bringing in a new start deserves for you to be merry and bright. Might I suggest drinks from your local Japanese brewery? Okinawa is famous for Orion Beer, born here in my beautiful prefecture.
3. Go to a local shrine.
Many Japanese visit their local shrines. I went to Nominoe for the festival food and countdown.
4. Get good luck
Make sure you don’t screw up. It’s a very complicated process. Ready? You only need two coins. A 5 yen and 10 yen coin. Throwing both together optimizes your chances for a great year. Now, wipe the sweat off your forehead. The task has been completed.
While you’re at the shrine, make sure you wash your hands in a specific process. Fill the tin can with water, wash your left hand first, then your right. After, drink the water to show the gods you have purified and cleaned yourself.
After you throw your coins, clap twice bow and pray for whatever you like. Might I suggest not misadventuring as hard as I do. May you have many successes, dear reader.
Once you finish paying your respects around midnight, participate in more libations, festival foods, or after parties! When visiting a shrine, line up about 15 minutes before the count down. Most of the shrines are packed and crowded.
I pray you all have an amazing and prosperous 2015!