December 31 - Ōmisoka in Japan

Posted on December 31, 2017

Tonight is New Year's Eve - a holiday celebrated all over, with a variety of names and customs.

It's basically what Ōmisoka is all about in Japan. Some of the customs include house cleaning, repaying debts, and bathing - so that the new year can start fresh, clean, and debt-free. Of course there are parties; nowadays, rather than singing during Ōmisoka gatherings, people often gather to view a four-hour year-end singing battle on TV!

Also, of course, there is food. People often eat bowls of long noodles (toshikoshi soba or toshikoshi udon). The crossing of one noodle over many others represents the crossing from one year to the next. Also, there is a sweet beverage that is passed out to crowds surrounding Shinto shrines, and there are traditional meals prepared on the evening of Ōmisoka and eaten the next few days, in the new year. 

At Buddhist temples, large bells are struck 108 times. I have seen photos of things that are traditional around the world, like confetti fluttering down and fireworks soaring up, as well.

Happy New Year!

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