Teaching English in Japan, living in Japan and being married to a Japanese woman has given me the opportunity to learn quite a bit about Japanese culture. One of the things that I’ve learned is that December is a busy month for Japanese people, including my students at my English conversation (英会話) school, Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi (スミス英会話塚口校) in Tsukaguchi (塚口), Amagasaki (尼崎市), Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県), Japan. Here are some things to do in December:
1. At work, finish things that must be finished by the end of the year.
2. Attend bounenkai (忘年会), literally “forget the year gathering”. At these year-end parties, Japanese people drink alcohol and forget about everything that has happened over the past year, both good and bad. These are generally held among groups of co-workers or friends and can get quite numerous! They must be fun but tiring if one has a late night party then must work early the next morning!
3. Clean their homes. Japanese people like to clean their homes at the end of the year and start the new year with a clean home. I think that it’s a great idea!
4. Write and post New Year’s postcards. Japanese people send New Year’s Day postcards, called nengajo (年賀状). These are best received on January 1st and if not on that day as early as possible in January. The Japanese postal company Japan Post offers a January 1st delivery of New Year’s postal cards service. There is a mailing deadline in late December people must meet to be able to have their New Year’s postcards delivered on January 1st. The Japanese New Year holiday starts at the end of December for many company employees in Japan, they have to prepare the postcards while still working if they want them delivered on January 1st. This can be quite challenging, especially when they’re busy with work and other things and there are lots of postcards to prepare. My wife, who is Japanese, buys a New Year’s postcard magazine with CD which contains a huge variety of New Year’s postcard templates and some New Year’s greetings to choose from. We choose a template, then using our home computer, my wife adds in greetings (from the CD or her own original ones) and also some photos of our family. She is very good at it and makes wonderful-looking New Year’s postcards every year, including some for my English conversation (英会話) students at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi in Tsukaguchi. I really appreciate all the time she puts into making them. (^.^) Besides sending postcards to my students, we also send them to Japanese family, relatives, friends, former co-workers and some other people too. I think New Year’s postcards are a great idea. In my home country Canada, we don’t send New Year’s postcards but some people send Christmas cards containing a message, traditionally “Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year”, or non-religious ones with “Season’s Greetings”.
5. Preparing food for the Japanese New Year. This is normally done by the ladies. January 1st in the Japanese New Year in Japan, or 0-shogatsu (正月). It is a time to get together with family and have traditional New Year’s dishes called osechi-ryouri (御節料理 or お節料理) as well as do other New Year’s celebration activities.
Wow! That sure is a busy month, don’t you think? I really appreciate my students making the time to come for their English conversation (英会話) lessons at my English school in Tsukaguchi even though they’re so busy! Thank you Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi students! (^.^)/
Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi
To read this post in Japanese, please click here.
Check out my English school’s web site videos, photos and event pages at http://www.smithweb.co.jp/school/tsukaguchi.shtml !