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December, aslo called Shiwasu

We sometimes call December, Shiwasu, which literally means, “the running master”

We think the expression would find its origin in the fact the master/teacher/priest were so busy during the end of the year that they were running.

The general cleaning of the end of the year.

In Japan, everyone does the general cleaning everywhere at the end of the year.

We clean up the mess accumulated in a year, and prepare ourselves to greet the Toshigami (Kami celebrated at the end of the year). It’s also a way to start the new year fresh!

Also at the office

It depends on the company, but normally, employees decide on a day and hour to clean up the office completely.

At school too

Generally in Japanese schools, some time is used everyday for cleaning. But at the end of the year, it’s on a large scale and we take even more time for cleaning.

And of course, at home!

The main place for cleaning is of course the house!From the kitchen to the bathroom, living room and garden etc. At the end of the year, there is a lot of garbage. The mother has a lot of work to do! Dads and children, let’s help your mother out!

New year’s card

In America or Europe, people wish a merry Christmas and a happy new year at the same time. But in Japan, we almost don’t send any card for Christmas. But we wish a happy new year by sending people New Year’s cards. To make those New Year’s card we use the computer or Social Network Services since a very long time. Japanese people are thrilled at the idea of opening their mailbox in new year’s morning!

Lot of New Year’s card designs

Some only have calligraphy on it.

It’s also very popular to use pictures of your family for New Year’s cards. Especially when there has been a new born child or a wedding that year. Or even pictures of your young child, to show how much he or she has grown for the past year.

We’re in Japan so we have, of course, New Year’s card with famous Japanese anime characters. In this card, all the characters from One Piece wear a kimono. They look so cool!!

It is also very popular to put the current Chinese zodiac sign on the card.

What is the Chinese zodiac?

A very long time ago, the name of 12 animals where used to indicate the direction, the hour, and the date.

This is a Chinese zodiac. In Asia, it is also now known and used in other countries using the Chinese characters (kanji). There are 12 different animals, and every year the animal changes following a specific order.

By the way, here are the names of these 12 animals : rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

▼New Year’s eve soba

On the last day of the year, we eat soba (buckwheat noodles). We call these soba the “Toshikoshi soba”

What is soba?

Soba is made from buckwheat flour and is one type of Japanese noodles.

In Japan, we mainly eat rice, or, as we have a large range of noodles, some noodles other than soba. But for the last day of the year we choose to eat soba. Here’s the reason why.

It’s a Japanese tradition from Edo period. The soba is a sort of noodle that is really easy to cut, so by eating soba, we can “cut (avoid) any misfortune” in our lives for the New Year.

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