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  • "Oshogatsu," or the New Year, is the biggest holiday in Japan.

  • We don't do much for Christmas, and in fact, we don't even get off of work for it, but we'll have between one to two weeks of vacation during the New Year.

  • This time of year, traditionally, we decorate with mochi, a sticky rice cake.

  • We stack two on top of each other, and then put a "daidai" orange or "mikan" on top.

  • This is called "kagami" mochi, and it's a traditional offering to Shinto gods.

  • The families who grow their own mochi rice, they often make the mochi for "kagami" mochi themselves.

  • Rachel and I made some with my uncle last year.

  • This holiday is important for families, and most people will spend it with their parents.

  • On New Year's morning we eat "zouni," which is a mochi soup, and "osechi."

  • "Osechi" is made of many small portions of various foods that are each considered good luck.

  • On New Year's Day, shrines and temples will be very busy.

  • We traditionally visit multiple shrines and temples to pray.

  • Large shrines may even have small festivals with "yatai," or foot stalls outside.

  • This year, our shrine was so busy that the line to pray curved around half the shrine's perimeter.

  • And since we were not religious enough to stand in line in the snow for 40 minutes, we gave up and went home.

  • Many people also travel and visit their relatives with their families.

  • This year, Rachel and I went with my family to visit my aunt and uncle where we had a feast with "sukiyaki" and "osechi," and watched New Year's television.

  • There is a famous TV program on New Year's Day that shows many famous people doing funny and ridiculous things every year.

  • For example, master chefs replicate daily life items with food and then place them in a room with real items, and people well call "tarento," or talent, have to guess which ones are food by trying to eat them.

  • These things aren't tradition, but they're an entertaining part of New Year's Day.

  • We also visited my grandpa and my aunt and uncles on the other side of my family the next night and had another feast; this time with sushi and fried foods.

  • Another part of the New Year is cards you buy at the post office called "nengajou."

  • These are special post cards that you send to your friends and acquaintances.

  • And the Japanese postal system works incredibly hard and attempts to deliver every single one on January 1.

  • These cards are extra special because each one has a lottery number on the bottom.

  • So for every "nengajou" you receive, you have a chance to win various prizes from the post office.

  • This used to be things like TVs or free trips, but these days it's cash.

  • This year they will announce the winners on January 18.

  • I hope we win!

  • It may not sound as fun as Christmas since we don't get presents, but kids actually get something called "Otoshidama," which is money given to them by their relatives.

  • It can be anywhere from about $10 to $100 from each relative for families with a normal income.

  • I used to spend all my "otoshidama" on books, but now that I'm an adult, I don't get it anymore.

  • If my sister has kids one day, I'll have to give them "otoshidama," so I hope she never gets married.

  • Anyway, thank you for watching about our New Year's holiday!

  • What's the biggest holiday in your country?

"Oshogatsu," or the New Year, is the biggest holiday in Japan.

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