Although shogatsu literally means the first month of the year, it generally indicates matsuno uchi(January 1-7),during which New Year’s decorations are displayed) or first three days of January.
A pair of decorations put at both sides of the gates or entrances of houses in order to summon the year got.Kadomatsu are decorations made with assembled pine branches enhanced by stems of bamboo and sprays of plum trees.Pine is used as a symbol of longevity.
A decoration put over the door of a house during New Year period to keep the evil out.
A decoration displayed at the entrances of houses during the New Year like shimenawa as a charm against evil spirits.Straw,kamishide and good luck charms are attached.When the New Year period ends, this Shimekazari, Kadomatsu and the othe decorations are taken to Shinto shrines and burned.
A set of two rice cakes, one large and one small, stacked one on top of the other as an offering to the gods. In old times, all mirrors(kagami) were round and considered sacred objects that reflected one’s spirit.
Hatsuhinode(the sunrise on New Year’s Day)
As the sun is considered to be the most sacred object in Shinto, people worship the sunrise on New Year’s Day to pray for health and happiness in the new year.
During the New Year period, people go for the first temple or shrine visit of the year to pray for health and happiness in the new year.
Hatsuyume is the dream that occurs the night of New Year’s Day to the morning of the 2nd. A saying states that the best order for the dream’s subject matter is:”first,Mt. Fuji;second,hawks;third,eggplants.”
A special sake people drink on the New Year’s Day to prevent illness in the new year and pray for the longevity.
Zoni(Soup with rice cakes and vegetables)
Zoni is a soup with rice cakes(mochi) and vegetables.It is an essential dish for celebrating the New Year. In the Kanto area, zoni is generally prepared as a clear soup with square mochi, while Kansai , it is made with bean paste and round mochi.
But the seasoning and othe ingredients are different according to each region and household.