Japanese Events and Holidays in December

December is also known as “Shiwasu (師走)”. “Shi (師)” means Priests and “Wasu (走)” means running, so it is said that this month is very busy month like priests keep running to read sutras. ※ This is folk etymology.

For this reason, there is no national holidays in this month.
(This is a joke. During Heisei Era, there was the Emperor Birthday on December 23rd.) 

O-Soji (Major Cleaning)

Major Cleaning has the meaning of “removing soot (dirt) from the year and welcoming the gods of the new year”.
For this reason, it has become an annual event for people to clean their houses thoroughly during this month.

December 22nd (in 2021):  Toji (Winter Solstice)

The winter solstice is the day on which the day is shortest and the night is the longest of a year, it is December 22nd in this year.
Many people associate the “Toji (winter solstice)” with “Yuzu-Yu (taking a bath with Yuzu (one of citrus)”. There are some traditions for this reason, but anyway, it has long been said that taking a “Yuzu-Yu” will keep people healthy all year round. 
Eating Kabocha squash on the “Toji (winter solstice)” is also popular in Japan. Kabocha is a vegetable that is rich in nutrients and can be stored for a long time. This is the wisdom of our ancestors who ate nutritious Kabochas on the day of the “Toji (winter solstice) to get through the winter healthy when fresh vegetables were scarce.

December 25th:  Christmas Day

Christmas is one of the biggest events in Japan as well, not only for children but also for young generation. Children wait for presents, young couples talk about their future.

December 28th:  Goyo-Osame (Last Working Day of the Year)

This is the last working day of the year for government offices. (If December 28th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the Friday immediately preceding it will be the last working day of the year.) 
In contrast, January 4th is called Goyo-Hajime (First Working Day of the Year), government staff begin work on this day. 
This holidays are set by law.

In 2023 fiscal year, Oizumi Town Hall will be closed from December 29th (Fri.) to January 3rd (Wed.). 

December 31st:  O-Misoka (New Year’s Eve)

It is customary for the whole family to gather at their parents’ house on this day to talk about each other, have a big dinner, and enjoy TV programs such as the “Kohaku Uta Gassen“.

Have a Great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!