This morning, after Chris left to go skiing, I started the housework. Well, 12 hours later, the house is clean (funny, my mom always cleaned the house on new year's too), our little kadomatsu are by the door:
the shimenawa has been hung up:
and the kagamochi is on its stand in the living room:
We are officially ready for our Japanese-style New Year, which focuses on forgetting the past and preparing for a fresh start.
Actually, the Japanese don't have the market cornered on the new year as a fresh start:
"The theme of renewal, banishing the old year's evil spirits and getting a fresh start with the new seems nearly universal. In some European cultures, the door is left ajar for the old year to escape, and a shutter is left open for the new year to enter. The Japanese prepare for the big day by cleaning their homes from top to bottom, then hang a sacred rope, or shimenawa, over the doorway to prevent malevolent spirits from entering the house."
---Laura Outerbridge, in The Washington Times, December 26, 1991
I'll put all the holiday pictures up at some point, I promise.