Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year decorations

oshougatsu kazari

We had a Christmas tree (since we don't have a fireplace, we needed to make a place for Santa to put the presents) but we put it away. The only holiday decorations in the house right now are these.

The small ones on either side are what the Pumpkin Daddy brought home from his holiday party at work. The large one in the middle is an arrangement my mother made from orchids she got from her neighbor and some things in the garden. The pine (matsu) are symbols of longevity. The clustered red berries are called manryo and which mean "ten thousand ryo," ryo being a large unit of currency in pre-Meiji restoration Japan, and the red berries surrounded by leaves are senryo, or "thousand ryo." The obvious reference to prosperity in their names makes them popular as New Year's decorations.

My mother insisted on bringing them on the 30th of December, as opposed to the 29th or the 31st, because 

1) The 29th has a 9, or "ku" in it. "Ku" means suffering, making the 29th unlucky.

2) Bringing them on the 31st would mean they would only be there for a single day before New Year's Day, making them unlucky.

Japanese superstitions are based on puns. We're punny like that.

Sorry, couldn't resist.