Today, December 13th , marks the beginning of the New Year and is the custom for year-end events.
[What is the beginning of the New Year? ]
The day to start preparing for the New Year.
Since ancient times, this day has been called ``Kishukunichi'' and is said to be the perfect day to start things , and is considered the perfect time to start new things and prepare for the new year. I was there.
In Japan, from this day on, people go to the mountains to collect materials needed for the New Year, such as bamboo and firewood for cooking kadomatsu and ozoni, and do a deep cleaning called ``Susuwari'', and gather ingredients for New Year's dishes. I was living at a time when I was starting to prepare things.
Why are you preparing for the New Year?
There is an image of preparing for a special day as an event to celebrate the successful end of the old year and the new year, but preparations for the New Year are made on the third day of the New Year, which is the beginning of the year. The beginning is to welcome the Toshigami .
[What is Toshigami? ]
The god who protects and rules the household for the year.
This god is called by various names depending on the region, such as Toshitokujin, Tondo-san, Eho-jin, and New Year's God.
Japanese life in harmony with nature
In ancient Japan, where people had deep faith in nature, ``Nen'' (year) was associated with the ripening of rice, and was considered to be the god of grain. The basis of this belief is the death and rebirth of grain, and as agriculture developed, people started praying for a bountiful harvest at the beginning of the year. For Japanese people in the past, living with nature was both rich and harsh, and life was all about living in harmony with nature. The New Year became an event to worship the god of the year, and it was believed that the spirits of the ancestors would eventually become the gods of rice fields and mountains, and that during the New Year they would become the god of the year, watching over the prosperity of their descendants.
In Japan, the custom of ``staying at home for the first three days of the New Year'' has remained as a way to welcome the New Year.
[Preparation for the New Year] Customs
The process of removing the year's worth of dirt and purifying oneself is called ``soobai''. This is what we now call "big cleaning."
It was said that if you wipe away the dirt that has accumulated over the past year and clean it from top to bottom, the god of the year will come down to you and bring you many blessings.
In the past, people used firewood and charcoal as a source of fire in their daily lives, so there was a lot of soot on the ceiling and walls. By the time the soot stains were removed, every corner had been thoroughly cleaned, and the inside of the room was bright and clean. Masu.
It seems that cleaning the soot was one of the events of lively life.
We go to collect pine trees for Kadomatsu and firewood for New Year's dishes. This is called ``Matsuaki''.
Proverb: ``A pine tree celebrates a thousand years, and a bamboo celebrates a long life.'' (Meaning: With pine trees and bamboo, we pray for the eternal life of God.)
As the saying goes, pine trees are evergreen trees that remain green even in winter, and it was believed that gods resided in the treetops, so kadomatsu are decorated as yorishiro to welcome the god of the year into your home.
You may often see shimenawa strung around sacred trees at shrines, which are decorated to show the god of the year that it is a sacred place worthy of welcoming visitors. Shimenawa has the meaning of warding off evil spirits, and is used at shrines as a dividing line between sacred areas and the secular world. The New Year's shimenawa also has the meaning of ``territoriality'' and ``establishing a barrier,'' and they are used to decorate homes that have been dusted off and cleaned to prevent evil spirits from entering.
【New Year dishes】
Osechi ryori was originally made as an offering to the New Year's god. By eating the offered osechi together as a family, we pray for happiness and health throughout the year.
One of the legends of ``Osechi'' is that it is meant to bring the god of fire to rest.
It is believed that cooking boiled rice on New Year's Day washes away the spirit of the New Year, which brings happiness to homes.Therefore, there are legends of making osechi dishes that will last a long time and using a kitchen knife so that you can spend time without having to cook. It was said that using it was bad luck because it would lead to ``severing ties.''
Kagami-mochi got its name from its resemblance to the shape of an old mirror. It was believed that a god resided in a mirror, and kagami-mochi came to be displayed as an offering to the god of the year. The round shape symbolizes a happy family, and the stacked shapes symbolize a happy year.
Every year on January 11th [Matsunouchi] (during the period when Toshigami stays in the house), the custom of eating kagami-mochi offered to the deity is called ``Kagami-biraki''.
After the Matsunouchi festival (January 7th) , we send off the god of Toshigami and eat kagami-mochi made from the blessings of nature (Toshigami is the god of abundance), share his spiritual power, and pray for good health throughout the year. I wish. This act is connected to an event called ``togatate'', which means ``eating hard food, making your teeth strong , and praying for a long life.''
Cutting hard and dry kagami mochi with a knife is considered bad luck, as it is reminiscent of seppuku, so it is broken into small pieces with a wooden mallet. Since this rice cake was a gift for the god of the year, please handle it with care.
Hagoita and hamayumi, which are New Year's decorations, are also displayed at this time.