Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


A new year...again

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

When it comes to the new year, I never get to post right on time. Good thing there are many "new year" opportunities to do so.

There's the traditional Roman calendar new year, which most of us celebrate. There's Chinese New Year, which is coming up tomorrow. There's even Nowruz, the Persian new year on March 21 this year.

In short, there are many opportunities to begin anew again, perhaps even (gasp) every day.

This past year, my family celebrated it a little differently from our usual ruckus in Manila. Instead of noise and firecrackers, we greeted the new year with a little solemnity in a Buddhist temple. All of my family, including grandkids trekked through Fukuoka's streets at night. We looked like a merry band of wanderers, as we navigated the byways of Japan. Then, we lined up with others inside a smaller, less popular Buddhist temple called Enkakuji. We waited to ring a bell once to thank the year that's gone before and to pray for the new one. It's a practice they call joya no kane, literally the bells of the remaining night.

After you rang the bell, you would then be served amazake, the warm sweet non alcoholic drink. With that in your hand, you could talk in hushed tones with your family or simply take in the rest of the night, with the bells tolling in the background.

I liked this kind of celebration. It was devoid of the usual gaiety, which can sometimes be forced and instead it was more contemplative. It gave all of us a chance to think about what really did go before and what else we could do in the coming year. I'm still figuring out my answer, but that night was a good place to start.

Happy new year, everyone...whichever one you celebrate!


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