New Year holidays

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In Oshogatsu, families living far away gather together and celebrate New Year. First of all, letfs talk about gOmisokah, December 31

On the last day, people express their appreciation for the year and pray the happiness for the whole family in the coming year eating gToshikoshi-sobah-long thin noodles.  While people enjoy pleasant conversation, gJyoya-no-kaneh -New Yearfs Eve Bell- starts to ring at the Buddhist temples. gJyoya-no-kaneh is supposed to release people from 108 forms of evil. Ringing bells late on New Yearfs Eve continues into the early hour of New Yearfs Day 108 times in all. 

People greet each other saying gOmedetoh- Happy New Year - during the New Year holidays.  People visit shrines and temples to pray for the happiness of the coming year- Hatsumode. Quite a few people wear the traditional gKimonoh on these special days.

People place gKagami-mochih- decorated rice cakes - in the alcove and drink gTosoh- special sake - and eat gZonih- soup with rice cake and vegetables - and gOsechi-Ryorih - specially prepared New Yearfs food.

gKadomatsuh- a pair of decorative pine trees - is placed on the both sides of the front entrance and also gShimenawa-kazarih - twisted rice-straw decoration - is decorated at the entrance.

People also enjoy exchanging New Yearfs cards with their relatives and acquaintances to greet and to inform current status.  It is quite similar to that of Christmas cards.

Children receive gOtoshidamah- a gift of money on New Yearfs holidays - from parents, relatives and acquaintances of the family. Formerly gHanetsukih - battledore and shuttlecock- , gKomah- spinning a top - and gSugorokuh- a race-type board game- were popular games among children. However, recently most children are spending their time watchingTV, playing game and meeting friends.