What are the festivals all month

Christmas eve

December 24th is the day on which children receive presents and at the same time a romantic day for young couples who express their love for one another. The religious significance of Christmas, on the other hand, is rather minor. With the beginning of December, beautifully decorated Christmas trees appear in the streets and Christmas carols can be heard everywhere.

These celebrations, which literally mean "Celebrating the Year Forget", are one of the greatest pleasures for the people of Japan. Work colleagues and friends come together to enjoy tasty stews and drink lots of alcohol. So all forget the worries and hardships of the old year.

Hago-ita Market at Senso-ji Temple in Taito District, Tokyo
These markets take place across the country from mid-December. The Hago-ita market at Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo, which is held every year from December 17th to 19th, is particularly well-known. Numerous visitors from all over the country come here to buy these beautifully decorated wooden clubs for the traditional New Year ball game.

Beethoven's 9th Symphony
The fourth movement from Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the “Ode to Joy” fits in perfectly with the hopes people have for the new year. For this reason, concerts of this symphony are performed all over Japan. The origin of these concerts is said to go back to the farewell party of students at a music college, which was convened shortly before the end of the last war. After the end of the war, the survivors came together again and performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony in memory of their fallen fellow students.

O-misoka (New Years Eve)
The evening of the last day of the year is also called Joya. At midnight, people flock to the temples, where the bells ring 108 times. This is intended to free people from the 108 passions (e.g. desire, greed, hatred or envy). In the temple of Chion-in in Kyoto, monks use their whole bodies to swing the huge bell clappers. Many families eat a special buckwheat noodle dish (toshi-koshi soba) at midnight while listening to the temple bells ring out.

(c) NIPPONIA, No.34, Heibonsha Ltd. 2005

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