I love the promise of a new year. In Japan, these days are a national holiday; businesses close and everyone cleans and purifies their homes to begin the year with a fresh start. It is also a time to reflect on the time gone by and express gratitude to those who have helped us.
With my family nearby, it seems like a perfect way to incorporate some of these end-of-year rituals. Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite ways to being anew. How do you ring in the new year?
- In Japan, families prepare for the new year with an elaborate meal that lasts a couple of days, so that no preparation or cooking is needed. I find that stocking up on a few family favorites and making healthy miso soup leaves me feeling lighter after the rich holiday treats.
- Every year, thousands of people make the eight-hour trek to the peak of Mt. Fuji to watch the first sunrise of the year, or goriko. Thousands more visit nearby shrines or temples to ring huge bells at midnight, welcoming the new year with wondrous clanging. I hope one day to make the trip, but in the meantime I make sure I am outdoors on the first day of the year to see the sunrise.
- In the West, we often write out a list of resolutions. In Japan, the first written thing of the year is symbolic and meant to represent a single concept or desire. I love the idea of concentrating on a single character or word—like health, happiness or calm—and finding a way to incorporate that into my life. My word this year is present, as I resolve to be more mindful and experience joy in small moments.
- Drinking sake on New Year’s morning is traditional, but green tea is my year-round go-to. Packed with antioxidants and other health benefits, I always feel refreshed and calm after a cup.