Mo Ikutsu Neruto Oshogatsu
Is it too early to mention “New Year”? Yeah, yeah… “New Year” is not so important as Christmas in US. I know that! Nowadays, the Japanese celebrate (without knowing what to celebrate!?) Christmas too. However, the importance of “New Year” in Japan is incomparable to Christmas!
“Mo Ikutsu Neruto Oshogatsu” means “How many more days do I have to count before the New Year comes?” When December starts, the Japanese are getting really + really busy in preparing for the celebration of the new year, which lasts at least for the first 7 days.
As you may know it, the Japanese work a lot. Housewives work a lot at home. They are actually busiest in the household. The climax will come on the new year’s eve, when they have to devote themselves to cleaning inside and outside of the house immaculately and cook Osechi Ryori, which I introduced to you several issues ago.
(Example of Osechi Ryori)
Other than those, not only housewives but also all family members MUST participate in writing Nengajo. This is a biggest event in December. Not many Japanese would love to do this, but they are usually obligated to do so every single year! How many of them do you wonder the average Japanese write Nengajo? Well, even elementary school kids have “official connections” at school, to whom they write Nengajo – at least 20 cards! Moms, if they are self-employed, they send about 400 to 500 cards at least. If they are not, household heads do so including their wives’ names along with their kids’ names. When Japanese people have to send this many, they usually use the printing service. Otherwise, they have to have their hands rest for the entire oshogatsu!!
(Back of Nengajo)
(Front on the left)
Interesting is that the card like above carries consecutive numbers for the drawing. Once December kicks in, the post offices start to selll this kind. The number of distribution is limited, so you have to step on others’ foot, pull other women’s hair from behind, cut in the line or squeeze in the line (Sorry, I got carried away! It is NOT that bad.) to get these cards before they are sold out. Sometime during Matsu-no Uchi (the first 7 days), you will find out who won the lottery. The prizes don’t include the trip to Bahama (joke). Still, they are very happy when they won something (Actually, each household with working household head receives hundreds of Nengajo, so you will definitely win!).
In US, you can skip writing Christmas cards if you dare (!?), but NO Japanese skips writing Nengajo. That’s simply NOT allowed! As a result, some Japanese get frustrated and hate Oshogatsu itself! These days, you don’t have to spend too much for printing Nengajo. They use COMPUTERS AND PRINTERS! Yes, there are lots of templates for Nengajo available at a very affordable price or free. Now they have fun, “making,” not “writing (anymore!),” Nengajo.
(You can even put your original pictures too!)
Oshogatsu is the biggest event in Japan, NOT Christmas! Japanese kids hear the Oshogatsu song above played everywhere and anytime over and over toward the end of the year now in December!
How was your 2015?
Did you successfully attain your goal?
You fulfilled your New Year’s Resolution?
It is NOT too late to start working on that
if Japanese proficiency was among them!
Let me help YOU!
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