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Fight of the Moon and Sun: New year in Japanese of

Till 1873 far already now Japan lived according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The favourite winter holiday of all children and adults was “sliding“ - every time fell on new day where - nibud at the end of January or in the first half of February.

However winds of change blew: under pressure of the European powers and America the country at last opened ports for free trade with foreigners. It became obvious that the difference of chronologies causes scandalous inconveniences. And then the government the strong-willed decision transferred the country to solar calculation of days and months. At the same time it was lost the whole thirty days: after the eleventh first “moon“ of the next year came at once. At officials the monthly salary - which automatically was gone - who rustled, demanding it to give out nevertheless, but is ineffectual. Since then passed nearly one and a half centuries, and Japanese got used to meet New year then when also we long ago, - on January 1.

Of course, fanatics of traditions still show discontent with it and persistently celebrate the, “real“ holiday in night of the termination of the twelfth moon. They - in absolute minority, however in principle residents of the Land of the rising sun would not be themselves if at all forgot how their ancestors arrived otherwise. In Japanese “execution“ New Year`s celebrations of the 21st century to trifles - as if historical “reconstruction“ - are similar to festivals of a century of XIX and at the same time peacefully get on with grandiose Christmas sales of quite globalist type. Yes, together with the Gregorian account of time for the Japanese islands Christian Christmas got, but it lost a religious component, and is used nowadays mainly in order that it is better to be prepared by favourite New year (isn`t that so, in this way the situation is also at us?) . Besides, in December are traditionally paid bonus for all year which right there and fly to a fire chamber of the festive industry. Restaurants and other “edaln“ are hammered with the companies, as a rule, the colleagues who gathered for a corporate party. Everything is it seems normal, on - is European, but know how such action officially is called?“ Meeting on oblivion of last year“.

having Only forgotten

this year, according to local representations, it is possible to carry out the solemn act of transition to new. The act - it is not loudly told. Here the great winter holiday with all its symbols and signs is really perceived as an event vital and life-giving, “mythological“ inherently. By the way, about attributes - as well as Europeans, Japanese give a leading role to an evergreen plant here. Only did not eat, and only to a pine. She in age-old national system of “sign meanings“ personifies eternal youth and longevity. Not without reason the diet of Saint hermits by all means included the dew which literally is pinched from pine needles, - thus bodies are filled with the “physical“ force of the century nature. Unlike hermits simple peasants on the eve of New year went to the mountains with which all four main Japanese islands are rich to dig out or cut down a young sosenka. Then it needed to be exposed directly in front of gate of the house that there good luck came. Actually, in the modern language a New Year`s tree - ornament and is called - to “kadomayets“, that is “a pine in front of gate“.

the Reputation of a pine in national consciousness is strong and inviolable

, it enters a subcortex together with ancient poetry. The last often sings of this plant along with a crane, other known symbol of longevity and good luck. Was considered that on cranes immortal Taoist Saints travel. In the 10th century a certain court lady wrote:

the Crane

With a thousand-year pine,
That bring you congratulations,
is Known how would like eternally
to Live in the shadow of your favor!

(A. A. Dolina`s Translation)

to It are echoed two centuries later by well-known Saygyo:

At each gate are Cost by young pines.
Festive look!
the spring came Today!


(V. N. Markova`s Translation) - the spring came, but not winter, as it is natural - earlier Japanese connected a holiday of change of dates with “opening“ of an agricultural season and wires of cold weather in the same way as “are nowadays forced“ to associate it with their beginning. But - here I have to repeat - quite in Japanese ineradicable was a corresponding ceremonialism “focused“ just on revival, awakening from a dream, energy inflow.


Was considered, for example, that on the top in time of the exposed predvratny sosenka the deity of the coming year climbs down mountains and inhales fertility force to the earth. And that the hardworking being was not tired, prepared for it a nourishing entertainment: round rice flat cakes of Motya, rice wine (all known to Saca), persimmon, tangerines, dried and salty fish. It is still accepted to be treated for New year and treskovy caviar: eating of germs has to provide also to people fertility in every sense of this word. However, of course, in present city life the speech here usually goes just about progress in career and the affairs which do not have relations to a zemlepashestvo.

Carefully prepare for a meeting with ancestors

With a current of history in the conditions of the Japanese narrowness the whole pine at doors turned into a bunch of its branches, and with addition of bamboo escapes. They are long since esteemed for firmness before winds and superrapid growth, that is celebrating again - emphasize with them aspiration to find new vital energy. Got to the bouquet and plum branches symbolizing arrival of spring: the Japanese plum blossoms very much early when new snow still easily can drop out. It is possible to tell that on this plant the nation and “learned“ about approach of New year and met him by indispensable poetic sessions. Representatives of all estates took seats with cups at roots of a tree and began:

Gloss of snow, purity of the moon, shine of stars
Merged in plum blossoming.
Oh, gold of wonderful night
And aroma of flowers, covering a garden!

the poet Sugavara Mitidzane of (845 - 903) So spoke. as then was found In its verses composed, in Chinese, plum is praised to high heaven - but only blossoming.“ Present“ December plum is only naked branches. Adherents of old times say that even plants for New year became now not those...

Anyway, the pine, a bamboo and plum together make a classical triad of a winter holiday. The small “sheaf“ which replaced rural trees in the stone jungle can be hung out before apartments and today. Yes, still - it by all means should be tied up a plait from the rice straw received when collecting the last harvest. Such plait serves as an excellent charm, in Shinto temples fence with thick ropes from the same material the most sacred places.

Well and a persimmon with tangerine will not be damaged to a New Year`s still life, though are not obligatory...

Everything, it is possible to sit down to a table. As well as in Northern Europe, New year was always considered in Japan as especially family holiday, and especially it is important to observe this tradition as in the last night before a celebration souls of ancestors whom family members are obliged to welcome and honor come back to the house. Presence of strangers at the same time was strictly forbidden, and now whoever in what trusted, at Japanese was not developed a habit to visit to each other at this time.

However deities and souls will want to be not everywhere, they will bypass the dirty place - therefore on the eve of celebrations clear-out is arranged, and evil spirits are conjured away by special ceremonies. Each Japanese knows what these archfoes - peas and beans most of all are afraid of. It is necessary just to scatter them before New year on a floor in all rooms, sentencing: “Happiness - to the house, devils-!“

we Will discuss the festive menu now - it simply as people and gods perfectly will suit the same products. A main course - mentioned Motya. Before placing flat cake in a copper with the boiling water, dough needs to be “softened“ long the special wooden beaters reminding a hammer in a form. In olden days it was collective action with participation of all family members or even several neighbour`s families - serially. In Motya again - the Spirit of rice lives. So the more people it will be “lodged“ there, and then eaten, the all will begin to live districts more fine.

Bon appetit! But be careful: Motya possess extremely viscous consistence and it is easy to choke with them. Every January newspapers report about accidents - very often pieces of flat cakes get to a windpipe of citizens. But they are very tasty and full of magic values which many young people already also do not remember, but nevertheless intuitively feel. On a New Year`s table there should not be nothing casual. Ask them - that “mirror“ Motya of a round form are urged to represent the “Motya`s kagam“ special? Most likely, will not answer. But prepare. Actually in flat cakes the reminder on the full moon and “completeness“ of life is concluded.

Motya`s Krom the sacred meal includes porridge from red beans (it gave once cleaning sense), curative herbs soup and noodles of a sob from buckwheat flour - happiness and wellbeing in the house are obliged to be same long (never-ending) as noodles.

And now the most pleasant - gifts

First that comes to the Japanese mind: clay, paper, drawn, metal, plastic - any images and figures of the corresponding animal from a twelve-year zodiac cycle. In case of 2006 - the image of a dog who protects the house and banishes thieves.

On the second place in a ritual scale of New Year`s values, strangely enough, money. Gave earlier exclusively five-yen coins as their name - goen - is homonymous to the word designating strong family bonds. But today for five yens you will buy nothing and therefore notes in a beautiful white envelope are, as a rule, attached to them.

Well and, of course, greeting cards - Japanese are recognized world champions in their writing. Even during a recent era when also we found time to send messages to friends and relatives in Russia, the exchange of New Year`s “greetings“ on gracefully issued forms never had at us such scale, as in Japan. The average resident of the Land of the rising sun, this beehive and epicenter of feverish business activity, every time when terms approach, sends more than hundred New Year`s cards! To parents, brothers, sisters, chiefs, colleagues, neighbors in the previous and present residence, casual acquaintances - all those with whom it was necessary to deal in the last 365 days. And not only commitment to custom with all time expenditure accompanying it but also the fact that at all multi-color pictures of high printing quality are most popular with Japanese as in other world is surprising. Here in the course the most usual postcards without uniform art vykrutas, monopoly for which release the state mail has. Their advantage - only in one, but it is decisive: on everyone strictly individual, only number in the country which is at the same time and number of a national lottery is printed. That is the more the person of partners in New Year`s correspondence, the has more at him and chances to win some solid prize.

generally, as well as in all this world, the New Year`s gift in Japan is a kind of a blagopozhelaniye. What it is possible to wish to the neighbor? Speaking briefly - happiness. Therefore before treasured night everywhere in the country special “fairs of happiness“ are organized. There it is possible to get, say, a ship by which seven gods of good luck with infinite treasures onboard float. Or - a toy bamboo rake, in a new season them very conveniently any happiness will get. Or - the same decorative arrows and rackets for game in a flounce. Their mission - to banish and frighten off evil spirits. For the same also the fan will descend. The movement “to“ makes up for wealth and prosperity, “from itself“ - relieves of undesirable fluids. As a garnish Japanese buy at fairs and “curative“ food - fruit, tea, Saca, - proceeding from that reasonable postulate that longevity is provided first of all with the correct diet. And, present, alcohol in moderate, that is microscopic, doses - its indispensable element.

However, each person himself best of all knows that it is useful for it. Following this logical doctrine, sellers expose in the show-windows figurines from a papya - Masha or a tree. They to Darum (Boddkhidkharm) - the legendary founder of school represent a zen in the Buddhism. Its unsurpassed sanctity is demonstrated by lack of legs: they withered after infinite meditations in “a lotus pose“. As a result the nice cousin of our tumbler toy turned out: the center of gravity is displaced from top to bottom, Darum cannot overturn. And such inflexibility - very important quality which in new year will help everyone to remain itself, to make the right decisions, to listen to own heart and reason. But also, Daruma has no eyes - more true, pupils. And it with an ulterior motive: at once when receiving a figurine as a gift it is necessary to draw a black circle in one of white empty eye-sockets and to make at the same time a wish. If it is executed, it is necessary to make the Saint rather able to see, having represented the second pupil. If is not present, then in a year it should be burned as not met expectations. And those who is not so committed to superstitions can recommend a set of pieces of odorous soap. Only and soap - if slightly to “kovyrnut“ it - it will be tightly connected with tradition. On the eve of New year not only clear-out, but also universal “washing“ of all family are strictly obligatory.


others dragons on the earth

approach of the great moment is announced by 108 bell blows in all Buddhist temples. From 108 beads beads are formed. According to Buddha`s doctrine, also the person is subject to 108 temptations and sins, - under bell sounds all sins, one by one, have to consign to the past. And Japanese, having waited for dawn, crowds hurry in the sanctuaries - for the first time this year. It is important to manage to meet exactly there sunrise that in the next 12 months everything developed safely and joyfully. Before an entrance to the temple the comer washes away the first New Year`s water from a bucket old “dirt“ from a face and hands, stiffens for a second before a statue of the Founder, throws a coin into a box for donations, claps to draw attention of local deities and mentally prays for execution of dreams. This prayer is offered to be recorded and in writing: on the wooden plates which are hung out on the special “bulletin board“ intended for the highest forces.

then all go to start

A “coherent between the earth and the sky“ - kites, it should be done in the very first days of January too. Today on streets of the Japanese cities the whole snake fights are arranged. For intimidation of the opponent to “pets“ draw frightening faces, and the one who managed to plunge “stranger“ on the earth wins. For this purpose he needs or to confuse slings, or to cut them by means of some sharp object which is fixed on slings of the dragon.

all this exotic celebration Comes to the end with the ceremonies connected with the cleaning force of fire with

. In a huge fire which are made in the territory of temples both Christmas decorations, and wooden plates with prayers burn. All this reminds the Carnival of Venice. Celebrations are ended, the deity of year fluttered away from a sosenka and returned to the place of the continuous stay in mountains, and life - proceeds. Proceeds with new and pure after the forgotten leaf filth.