Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years Traditions

Japan is a land of traditions. The language is full of double meanings and rather than making puns into jokes, they are embraced in the ways holidays are expressed. Of all the holidays, New Years seems to get the largest dose of tradition.

These are shown in the door decoration. Over the past 50 years, the decorations have become more commercially made, sold all assembled and wrapped in plastic, ready to hang . I would guess that most of the younger generation would not know how or what (or even why) these decorations are made.

Each little item in the arrangement has a meaning and the decoration itself seems to have a lot of Shinto or Buddhist background.

I find it interesting that my husband, a third generation Christian, is particular about putting out the decorations by the "right" day, or for that matter, taking them down on the "right" day.

Often I think of how poorly Christianity has been accepted by the Japanese and wonder if some of that reason might be that they feel they must throw out all the traditions, many of which have Buddhist or Shinto roots.

My little granddaughter celebrated her "Shichi-go-san" by donning a kimono and being blessed at a temple. Where does religion leave off and tradition take over?

The Meiji Shrine at the end of the decorated boulevard, in my last post, will be crammed with people on midnight December 31st, waiting to rush in at the stroke of 12 and toss a few yen onto the conveyor belt, cap their hands and write their wishes to be left behind or buy a fortune paper (which will be left tied to a tree branch if it isn't positive). The atmosphere will be one of frenzy but hardly with a feeling of much more than tradition fulfilled.

As for me, it is nice to spend some quiet days, curled up under a warm quilt while I work on quilting the small blocks.
Once I have those done, I will figure out how to do the large ones.
I am quilting the border flowers with colored thread to match the flower centers. I am happy to be using my Aurifil thread which I received from Mme Samm.
No Scouts this week. No Choir practice this week. Leftovers in the fridge and lots of happy quilting. Seems like a good way to end the year.


  1. Interesting traditions to ponder and a lovely quilt to work on. Sounds like a peaceful and fulfilling time. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your family!

  2. That quilt just "ZINGS" with colour.I love the pattern, and your hand stitching must be so precise to do it all by hand. Traditions are important, I know that our Japanese host daughter Mayumi, said New Year was important.
    So, A Very Happy, Very Safe, Very Enjoyable, Very Blessed and Very Peaceful New Year to you and yours. Fond cheers from Jean in NZ.

  3. Traditions are part of life I guess but new traditions can become valuable too - love love love that quilt! The colours are just pure rainbow - how could you not be happy working on it!

  4. You have me hooked now, so what are some f the meanings in the door decorations?
    Your quilt is full of colour. So bright and uplifting!

  5. Hi Julie
    I love the idea of the door decoration. When I was younger my mother would not put up any christmas decorations before the 8th of December and they had to stay up until the 6th of January (two holy days) as it was bad luck if they went up before or were left until after. Somehow I still keep that tradition going in my house.
    The colours in your quilt are so bright and cheerful. Enjoy the last few days of 2011 and best wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2012

  6. sounds like the perfect way to end the year!
    quilt looks so pretty, love that daisy border fabric!
    happy New Year!

  7. sounds like the best way to end the year to me xx have a peaceful and happy time xx

  8. Hi Julie, I love to learn about the Japanese traditions so much that I shared it on Facebook!!!
    Great post!

    Happy New Year!!!

    Sandra ♥

  9. Yes, traditions are important, though I don't really have any for the New Year.

    And yes, that is a gloriously happy quilt you are now quilting! I am enjoying the thought of you sitting and working with it while it already keeps you warm in your lap.

  10. Happy New Year Julie and I hope you have a lot of time to work on that beautiful rainbow quilt. I read with interest about traditions. Here in England so many of our Christian traditions were originally hijacked from older religions and these days they are becoming more and more diluted and more commercial which I find sad. Today I have put all the Christmas decorations away, I like a fresh start for the New Year although we can traditionally leave them up until "Twelfth Night", the 6th January. Tomorrow I shall fill the house with fresh flowers and welcome the longer days.

  11. A VERY good way to end the year!! Happy New Year, Julie!! ;))

  12. It's a wonderful way to welcome in the new year, and I will be doing something very similar. I rarely make it until midnight since my routine is generally bed by 10:00. Nevertheless, a quiet evening is much my preference! blessings, marlene

  13. Julie, Thank you for sharing your traditions and your projects with all of us. Your blog posts are always interesting and we love seeing your quilts. We wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

  14. Thanks for the sneak peak, Mom, what a sweet border, how fun to use the colored thread! I feel warm already. Today irene helped me make the bed, the cwaj quilt was being mended and laundered today so we slept under her baby blanket--i read the inscription, love in every stitch to her and we talked about how Grandma loves her sooooo much that she put love all inside and over the quilt--she liked the idea and even more so, the prospect of seeing you this summer. she wanted to know how far away summer was--i tried to explain, 'after your birthday". now she thinks you're coming after her birthday....any chance you could make it on may 26th? ;-)


  15. A wonderful post. Sending you good thoughts for a good New Year. And, such a beautiful quilt... :) Happy New Year!

  16. Happy New Year, Julie! I love reading about Japan and the traditions! Glad you have some time to unwind, relax and quilt!

  17. Happy New Year, and what a great way to start it by sewing on such a beautiful quilt, with a very fun flower border. I love the idea of using the same color thread to really tie all the color together.

    I enjoyed reading about traditions; because I'm still sick, I missed out on making our traditional New Year's Day dish of black-eyed peas. (I just don't feel like cooking!) But because New Year's falls on a Sunday, my husband has gone to church for both of us--a good way to start the new year--in worship.

    Happy New Year!
    Elizabeth E.

  18. It's wonderful to visit you and learn of traditions in Japan. And a shame that the younger generation in a lot of cultures do not know or have not been taught "Tradition." I hear Tevye in the background singing... do you? (Fiddler on the Roof... a favorite)

    It may not be entirely of how poorly Christianity may have been accepted but also how poorly presented.

    I'm glad you had some quiet days... your quilt is beautiful. As one poster said "pure rainbow."
    In spite of our ways, God keeps His promises... always.

  19. I'm late reading your post. Your question about what is religious and what is cultural is a good one and one that we Christians always have in the back of our minds... Tetsu and I were sort of accepting of everything... We didn't make special trips to shines and temples but we didn't avoid them... We let the kids join the neighborhood ceremonies (donto yaki) but didn't order decorations ourselves... The biggest question is always what to do at funerals...

    My daughter's host family spent two years in Japan and they absolutely wouldn't go near anything with religious overtones. No Kyoto, Nara or even Nikko temples. No putting up flying carp or attending culture day (the children had made omikoshi). I thought it a pity that they were missing out on a lot of Japan.

  20. Love that quilt! Not so many traditions on this side of the pond. Being a melting pot, everyone has their own traditions instead.