New Beginnings | Culture
Akemashite Omedetō gozaimasu!
Happy New Year!
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
We thank you in advance for your support in this coming year!
THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY
We hope you had a relaxing end to the year and are ready for 2016. This year falls on the year of the mischievous monkey, the 9th zodiac of the 12-year cycle. Those born in the year of the monkey are said to be curious and clever as well as also possessing a mischievous streak.
In Japan, it is customary to send New Year greeting cards, usually with the Chinese zodiac of the New Year although in more recent times it is common to customise them with pictures of one's family. Nengajo can be equated to the Japanese equivalent of Christmas cards and are sent to arrive on the 1st of January, making the end of December a busy time for the Japanese postal service. We have made our very own to send out to family, friends and colleagues which we are giving away with every purchase made in-store. Come by and collect yours!
To mark the start of the New Year, it is tradition to eat Toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦) – year-climbing/jumping noodles – on new years eve to ensure a good crossing into the upcoming year. It is important to start the year off clean and fresh, tidily tying up the previous year and ensuring a clean slate for new beginnings. This tradition is similar to that of the western one of new years resolutions.
Although unlike Christmas, gifts are not traditionally exchanged over New Year, it is customary for parents and grandparents to give money to their children and grandchildren. This money is called Otoshidama (お年玉) is always presented in a special otoshidama envelope called a Pochibukuro. The bills and coins are brand new to ensure they are clean and have never been spent. This tradition teaches children from a young age how to handle money and the etiquette that comes with it. Children are not allowed to open the envelope in front of the person who gave it to them as this is considered rude. Money is rarely exchanged hand-to-hand, both in daily commercial interactions and especially when offering money as a gift. You can avoid social faux pas with our colourful envelopes which come in varying sizes for money and small cards.