Author: Veronica Grosek
New Year’s Day has always been special to me. Even though there is little physical manifestation – the day usually starts like any other, there are no wild phenomena that are set into motion by the sun completing its most recent revolution – it always feels like a new page full of promise.
I spent some time living in Japan, and while there I had the privilege of celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in my small coastal community. I lived in a very rural location, so the traditions there are well-preserved. The celebration began late at night on December 31st with a walk to the closest Shinto temple, where the visitors were handed small, steaming cups of a special New Year’s sake and listened to the first of 100 peals of the temple bell starting at midnight. Snow and ice crunched underfoot and the night was pitch black, but the paper lanterns guided us from temple to temple and there seemed to be an exciting yet reverent buzz of anticipation in the air. New Year’s Day is often celebrated by hiking to the nearest peak for daybreak, a tradition that I did not partake in that night but later became a favorite, soul-cleansing activity. We ate ozoni, a traditional Japanese soup, and made balls of mochi.
Being part of the New Year’s celebration in Japan was very eye-opening. It was less of a party, more of an opportunity for introspection and envisioning the new year. Now, I try to recall a piece of that experience each year to appreciate the past and make room for new goals, new people, and new beginnings. I hope that wherever you are, you take a moment to appreciate the sunrise, write down some goals for the new year, or reflect on a well-spent 2019.
Happy New Year from myself, and everyone here at the Chamber!
Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau