New Year’s Day is meant to be full of joy and happiness with no stress or anger. Everything should be clean and you should not work on this day. It is tradition to visit a Shrine or Temple during Oshogatsu.
Here are some traditions and customs that are followed during New Year’s in Japan
Shimekazari - a small rope made from rice straws, with carefully crafted zigzag-shaped paper strips called shide. Shimekazari is used to keep the bad spirits away.
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Toshikoshi Soba – eaten on New Year’s Eve and symbolises longevity.
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Osechi Ryori (御節料理) – special dishes served during New Year’s and usually consist of konbu (boiled seaweed), kamaboko (fish cakes), kinpira gobo (burdock root), and kuromame (sweetened black beans).
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Ozoni (お雑煮) – a soup made with mochi (rice cakes) traditionally served on New Year’s Day.
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Nengajo (年賀状) – Japanese custom of sending a New Year’s Day postcard to friends and relatives. It is very similar to our custom of sending Christmas Cards.
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Otoshidama (お年玉) – special money given to children on New Year’s Day. It is handed out in small decorated envelopes by family and relatives. The amount varies depending on the age of the child, but typically will be either ¥5,000 (USD$60) or ¥10,000 (USD$120).
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Mochi (餅) – a favourite custom is creating mocha or rice cakes from boiled sticky rice. This is usually made before New Year’s Day and eaten during the start of New Year’s in January.
Hope you have a great New Year's and all the best for 2012