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Japanese Culture
Otoshidama
Otoshidama (お年玉, おとしだま) - Japanese celebrate New Year's Day on January 1 each year. Before 1873, the date of the Japanese New Year (正月, shōgatsu) was based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar and celebrated at the beginning of spring, just as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Years are celebrated to this day. However, in 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Catholic Gregorian calendar, so the first day of January is the official New Year's Day in modern Japan. It is considered by most Japanese to be one of the most important annual festivals and has been celebrated for centuries with its own unique customs.

On New Year's Day, Japanese people have a custom of giving pocket money to children, which is a custom from China. This is known as otoshidama (お年玉). It is handed out in small decorated envelopes called 'pochibukuro', descendants of the Chinese red packets. In the Edo period, large stores and wealthy families gave out a small bag of mochi and a Mandarin orange to spread happiness all around. The amount of money given depends on the age of the child but is usually the same if there is more than one child so that no one feels slighted.

Information source: “Japanese New Year.” wikipedia.org. Article date: 7 Feb. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 16 Feb. 2008 <Japanese New Year>.





























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