Ōmisoka – Japan

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In Japan, the passage from the old year into the new is a particularly significant observance, and is recognized on Ōmisoka, the last night of the year. Families enjoy a late dinner with one another, usually consisting of long toshikoshi-soba or udon noodles, and at midnight, it is traditional to visit a shrine or temple.

In many Buddhist temples, it is customary for a cast bell to sound 108 times, in the symbolic release of earthly desires believed to cause human suffering. The next day, New Year’s morning is seen as a time for fresh beginnings and renewal, making it the country’s most important holiday.

Photo: James Cridland via Flickr

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