New Years Day Words
A few important words and customs for the Japanese New Year
Here are a few New Year’s phrases that mean Happy New Year:
1) あけましておめでとう akemashite omedetou – lit. dawn (of
the New Year)-congratulations
2) 新年おめでとう shin nen omedetou
– lit. new-year-congratulations
WRITTEN IN NENGAJOU*
2) 賀正 ga shou – lit. joyful-New Years (正 is an
abbreviation for 正月 shou gatsu – which means New Year’s day or the month of
3) 迎春 gei shun – lit. welcome-spring
4) 謹賀新年 kin ga shin nen – lit. respectfully-joyful-new-year
5) 頌春 shou shun – lit. exalt-spring
*Nearly every Japanese family creates 年賀状 nen ga jou New Year’s cards
and hand them to the Post Office for delivery early to mid December. The post
office sorts them and gets them ready for delivery early New Year’s Day morning.
It is a major event and the news on New Year’s day always has coverage of teenagers
on bikes delivering the 年賀状 as a アルバイト (part time job).
NEW YEAR’S CUSTOMS (different from the customs
at the airport)
Note: I won’t go into great detail since Wikipedia has tons of close-up info
on each, but I will organize things so you just have to click to learn more
should you wish to!
Traditionally, カルタ karuta or 花札
hana fuda are played (both card games using special decks.)
Yummy, but don’t eat it too fast since you can easily choke on it!
And of course New Year’s Eve is spent watching 4 hours of 紅白
kou haku – NHK’s (National television) where the talent from the
past year sing and entertain the night away.
寒中水泳 – kan chuu sui ei – Polar bear club
(Yes, every year you also see old men rush into the seemingly arctic waters
to prove they are… I am not sure what they are proving.)
雪の言葉 – yuki no kotoba – Snow words
雪だるま – yuki daruma – Snowman
And if you want to have fun, you can pretend the 年賀状 you
received from your friend is really a 果たし状 hatashi
jou – a letter of challenge (to a fight) and confront him about his very
One last little bit… Recently with abbreviations and corruption of words
found on BBSs, Blogs and chat rooms there have been some interesting new words
pop up. One is もちつけ！ mochi tsuke! which is a corruption of 落ち着け！ ochi
tsuke! which means “calm down!” This is just perfect for New Year’s
day – especially while eating もち. Of course if the person you are talking to
doesn’t eat and breath computers, they won’t have the foggiest idea what you
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