New Year’s Day in Japan has been officially celebrated according to the Gregorian Calendar since 1873. This change was a part of the modernisation and Westernisation movement of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in Japan.
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But despite the date change, Japanese continued to keep older traditions in celebrating New Year’s Day on 1 January. These include the annual “white glove” cleaning of the family home, giving small sums of money in an envelope to kids, and visiting the first shrine of the year on anywhere from the first to the third of January.
Getting up early to observe the first sunrise of the year is another tradition, but only the truly dedicated get up that early! Special New Year’s foods in Japan include toshikoshi soba soup on New Year’s Eve and Ozouni soup on New Year’s Day. Osechi snacks, put in a black bento box, are supposed to bring good luck. Each food item inside represents something about life and about the year ahead.