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Nengajou (New Year's Cards)

Subject: Nengajou (New Year's Cards)

Here is a link to a story about how the Japanese custom of nengajou (New Year's cards) is catching on in America, not because of the influence of Japanese culture, but simply as a response to the hectic nature of the holiday season and the commercial feeding frenzy that Christmas has become.

New Year's cards avoid that Christmas crunch
http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20011228/3732415s.htm
- Stop feeling guilty about late Christmas cards, and take a lesson from the Japanese: Send New Year's cards. The trend has grown in America in recent years.

In a way, I (a shin-issei) have followed the nengajou custom, even though I was never taught about it or anything else to do with Oshougatsu while growing up. Being a non-Christian, I have always gravitated towards cards with non-religious imagery that say "Seasons Greetings" or "Peace" rather than "Merry Christmas". And being a bit of a procrastinator, friends will attest that my cards tend to arrive after December 25 (the following June was the latest so far).

Living in North America, we cannot wait until the post-Christmas lull to write our nengajou. From where I live on the West Coast, the cards meant for Japan must be sent by end of the third week of December to make it in time for Oshougatsu.

Interestingly, many of the cards we have received from non-Christian relatives and friends in Japan say "Merry Christmas".

Pop Vox: Do you know the real meaning of Christmas?
http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=popvox&id=188
- In Japan in recent years, Christmas has come to mean for many young Japanese dinner at a fancy French restaurant on Christmas Eve, followed by a romantic night at the hotel. But how many know the real meaning of Christmas?


Subject: Re: Nengajou (New Year's Cards)

> Being a non-Christian, I have always gravitated towards
> cards with non-religious imagery that say "Seasons Greetings"
> or "Peace" rather than "Merry Christmas".

My wife is studying hanga, woodblock printing. Last year she printed Daikoku as our New Year's card. This year, she is doing Ebisu. We just finished New Year's cleaning and tomorrow begins an 8 day vacation.

I am a Buddhist, but I often had birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas in America (also put up a Bodhi Tree on Rohastu (celebration of Buddha's enlightenment at the begining of December), and kept it up until after Christmas.

> Interestingly, many of the cards we have received from
> non-Christian relatives and friends in Japan say "Merry
> Christmas".

It is interesting that Christmas cake is a tradition here in Japan too.


Subject: Re: Nengajou (New Year's Cards)

> Being a non-Christian, I have always gravitated towards cards
> with non-religious imagery that say "Seasons Greetings" or
> "Peace" rather than "Merry Christmas".

Other than at Japanese stores, choices have been limited to that if you wanted to keep away from religious messages. But I was in a Target store the other day, and they had a small section of Chinese New Year cards next to their Valentine's Day cards (both were red). Things are changing!

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