Three faces of Japanese Santa Claus
There is only one New Year's holiday on the planet, and Santa Clauses are countless. Each has its own magical character, which opens the door to the next year. In the Land of the Rising Sun - as many as three grandfathers, without whom the main winter holiday is unthinkable. What is the name of the Japanese Fathers Frost and why are there three of them? The East remains faithful to its own traditions, but also adopts something from Western culture.
All-seeing and all-knowing
The name of the oldest of the Japanese Grandfathers Frost - Hoteiosho. This is the main symbol of the New Year. He knows human weaknesses and desires, can interfere in fate at the moment when the year begins "from scratch." That is why the Japanese honor him as a god and worship him, waiting for the fulfillment of desires, good luck and prosperity. The Japanese Father Frost, in the incarnation of the god Hoteios, is portrayed as a good-natured old man, who has eyes not only on the face, but also on the back of his head.
Mr January does not like vanity
The successor of Hoteiosho in Japan is considered a character whose presence at the festival is more tangible, because he goes home to the eve of the celebration. This is Segatsu-san.The name of the wizard comes from the name of the month beginning the year - January, which sounds in Japanese "segatsu". The particle "san" in the name of the Japanese Santa Claus means a polite form in circulation, which can be translated as "mister."
Segatsu-san does not like fuss, and therefore he slowly goes home for a week, and not just on New Year's Eve. He congratulates the inhabitants of the houses with the New Year, but does not give gifts. This is one of the main differences between the Eastern New Year’s grandfather and his Western colleagues. Another difference is how the Japanese Santa Claus looks. He is dressed, of course, not in a fur coat, but in a kimono, and the color of the dress is “ao”; in Japanese, this word means two shades - blue and green.
What do the Japanese do a week before the New Year
In the days when Segatsu-san goes around the houses, residents are diligently preparing for the celebrations. There are markets, fairs, shops where you can buy gifts: talismans, souvenirs, amulets. Ritual gizmos are warmly welcome at the New Year. Hamaims (arrows with white plumage) protect the house from unclean spirits, and boats filled with rice promise wealth. The most popular and even obligatory New Year's gift in Japan is kumada, which means “bear's paw” from bamboo, similar to a rake to row happiness.
Japanese Father Frost is greeted in front of the house entrance, in bamboo collars twined with pine branches symbolizing longevity, or they stretch a string of rice straw decorated with fern leaves and tangerines. In wealthy homes during celebrations you can see dwarf pines, peach and plum flowering trees. Segatsu-san will be happy if the children show him an idea or build snow figures on the porch.
Instead of a European spruce, the Japanese put in houses New Year’s compositions “motibana”, their name can be translated as “flowers from mochi”. Initially, "mochi" - this rice balls, painted in different colors. Mochi strung on twigs attract wealth to the house, their joyful yellow and pink colors remind of the coming spring and symbolize the hope for a new harvest in the new year.
Wishes and Gifts
Japanese Santa Claus wishes people longevity and good luck and will not forget to remind them to put pictures of sailing ships under the pillow on New Year's Eve so that they were presented by seven gods, each of which “manages” their virtue: Daikoku gives luck, Dzyurozin - longevity ,Benton - friendliness, Ebisu gives sincerity, Hotei - generosity, Bishamon-ten gives dignity, Fukurokuju - benevolence. It is believed that the seven gods are sailing to the shores of Japan on a ship with the "Lord Jan", who lives on the island of Honshu.
Segatsu-san gives people only congratulations and good wishes, but the real members of the family are presented by the younger members of the family. Peers do not give each other gifts. The main gift is "otoshidama", that is, "the treasure of the year." These are decorated with bright bow envelopes with money.
Recently, the kids of the rising sun know well the name of the Japanese Santa Claus: Oji-san. This is the very same old man familiar to all the children of the world with a bag of toys behind his back. This Japanese Santa Claus presents gifts to boys and girls who deserve their good behavior throughout the year.
The word "Oji-san" in Japan is used as a respectful appeal to an old person. This character appeared relatively recently as a tribute to Western tradition. The costume of the Japanese Father Frost Oji-san also resembles the dress of Santa Claus: a red sheepskin coat trimmed with white fur, boots and a pointed hat with a bomber.Like Santa, Oji-san appears on the night of December 31 to January 1 and gives children and adults an exciting holiday atmosphere. He enters when the copper bell strikes, heralding the transition from the old to the new year. The bell beats 108 times, so the ritual of cleansing from all vices is performed.