Wednesday, December 29, 2010

preparations for New Year's festivities

December 28th was the last working day of the year for most public servants. Many people return to their hometowns, so expressways and trains are extremely crowded.

Supermarkets are overflowing with food and decorative objects for New Year's day. We can't find Christmas goods anywhere.
We are not supposed to place pine decorations for New Year's Day on December 29th and 31st, because nine(ku in Japanese) is commonly associated with suffering and decorating at the last minute is regarded as lack of sincerity.

People used to repaper shoji and reface the tatami in December. Fewer Japanese houses have tatami rooms and shoji(障子) which are screens made of a wooden frame with paper stretched over it.

Many people trim trees in their garden to make them look better toward the end of the year. In December, gardeners are so busy that they are fully booked. I have trees trimmed one or two months in advance.

Very few people pound rice at home at the end of a year and most rice cakes are put in airtight plastic bags now.  When I was a child, a rice dealer brought our family freshly pounded rice cakes. So we ate soft rice cakes at the end of a year and did toasted or boiled ones on New Year's holidays.

Some people started getting ready for New Year's dishes.

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