- Oshogatsu is to welcome the deity, Toshigami-sama.
- Welcoming the New Year is a happy event, or Omedetai!
- Today’s Japanese New Year customs inherit many traditions of the ancient lunar New Year.
- We spend our time relaxing with family during Oshogatsu in Japan.
Oshogatsu is to welcome the deity, Toshigami-sama.
What is Oshogatsu?
In Japan, the Toshigami-sama deity comes to each family and promises abundance and health throughout the new year. The event to welcome Toshigami-sama is called Oshogatsu. There are many preparations that are made for the welcoming of Toshigami-sama, so the end of the year is always very hectic.
Welcoming the New Year is a happy event, or Omedetai!
There is one greeting we say during Oshogatsu, “Akemashite Omedetogozaimasu,” or literally, Happy New Year. This first began as a blessing when people welcomed Toshigami-sama. The New Year is similarly thought of as the beginning of spring, because spring brings us new life, so the ancient Japanese people blessed its joy through Omedetai. In addition to this, ancient Japanese people used to count their age on January 1st. Getting 1 year older means you lived the last year safely, so people were very pleased about it and the greeting, “Akemashite-Omedetogozaimasu” has been handed down over generations.
Today’s Japanese New Year customs inherit many traditions of the ancient lunar New Year.
Before the Meiji restoration, Japanese people used the lunar calendar. The New Year during this period was around the middle of February. The ancient people celebrated the start of a new year in early spring when plum blossoms can be seen. Nowadays, on the Gregorian calendar, the Japanese New Year is in mid-winter. However, we adorn traditional decorations with artificial plum blossoms and frequently use the Kanji character meaning Spring (春) on our paper greetings.
We spend our time relaxing with family during Oshogatsu in Japan.
Japanese people usually call the period during 1st January to 3rd January, Sanganichi. During this period, most companies and factories are closed, so people often go back home and spend time with family.
Things that modern Japanese people do with their family during Oshogatsu can be found in this article: Omisoka and Oshogatsu: The Japanese Year End and New Year’s holidays