Two New Year’s Traditions Worth Considering


And the transition back to sanity begins . .

It’s amazing to me how quickly I can go from unabashed gluttony in every form to wanting nothing more than to clean and de-junk my house while nibbling on organic fruits and vegetables. Like many of you, I sit here on the day after Christmas surrounded by the debris of our celebrations (wrapping paper, toys, cold wassail, cookie crumbs) focused on putting my life back together. It was wonderful to be sure, but now I’m ready for New Year’s.



Maybe it’s the Japanese in me. Having lived there for a couple of years, I find their New Year’s traditions quite refreshing;two in particular. Since New Year’s is their biggest holiday, December is a busy month for them as well but, in a very different way. They spend a considerable amount of time engaged in Susuharia, or “soot-sweeping”–the Japanese custom of deep cleaning the home in preparation for the New Year. Many of the traditions in Japan are centuries old and have symbolic, religious meaning. The tradition of Susuharia represents rubbing out the stains–both physical and spiritual–of the past year in order to purify the home and spirit for the coming New Year and life.

The other tradition that keeps them busy during December is that of wrapping up all their affairs so as to avoid carrying over any debts or duties beyond New Year’s Eve. The Japanese are very diligent about this, and the tradition likewise carries a deeper meaning of leaving behind old problems and worries to start life afresh. Don’t those sound like two wonderful ways to start the New Year? Remedies for the physical mess and financial debts of a month of gluttony. (And I would also include the effects of overeating too many rich foods!) So as you go into this week of “damage control” between Christmas and New Year’s, you might consider adding these two Japanese traditions to your list.

In the meantime, take a moment for one last laugh as you enjoy this humorous and charming version of “Twas the Night After Christmas”. (Author unknown)


‘Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring–excepting a mouse.

The stockings were flung in haste over the chair,

For hopes of St. Nicholas were no longer there.

The children were restlessly tossing in bed,

For the pie and the candy were heavy as lead;

While mamma in her kerchief, and I in my gown,

Had just made up our minds that we would not lie down,


When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I went with a dash,

Flung open the shutter, and threw up the sash.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave the lustre of noon-day to objects below.

When what to my long anxious eyes should appear

But a horse and a sleigh, both old-fashioned and queer;

With a little old driver, so solemn and slow,

I knew at a glance it must be Dr Brough.

I drew in my head, and was turning around,

When upstairs came the Doctor, with scarcely a sound,


He wore a thick overcoat, made long ago,

And the beard on his chin was white with the snow.

He spoke a few words, and went straight to his work;

He felt all the pulses, then turned with a jerk,


And laying his finger aside of his nose,

With a nod of his head to the chimney he goes:–

“A spoonful of oil, ma’am, if you have it handy;

No nuts and no raisins, no pies and no candy.

These tender young stomachs cannot well digest

All the sweets that they get; toys and books are the best.

But I know my advice will not find many friends,

For the custom of Christmas the other way tends.


The fathers and mothers, and Santa Claus, too,

Are exceedingly blind. Well, a good-night to you!”

And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight:

These feastings and candies make Doctors’ bills right!”


QUESTION: How do you like to celebrate the New Year?
CHALLENGE: Consider incorporating the Japanese NewYear’s traditions of deep cleaning your home and wrapping up unfinished business along with your fun celebrations.


Photo by Milk and Cookies at





  1. Renee says

    We’re not Japanese, but we do deep clean the house before New Year’s Day each year. It’s a tradition that my husband brought from his family (Mexican-American). We still have some work to do, but so far this week the gutters have been cleaned out and the carpets have been shampooed. More will be done once the Christmas tree comes down! Starting the new year surrounded by cleanliness feels SO great!

  2. says

    I love the idea of instituting those two traditions in our home! Problem is…if I am really going to deep clean this house and tie up all of our affairs, I am going to need at least another week between Christmas and New Year!!! I wonder if that could be arranged? :)

  3. Joanna says

    In Poland we deep-clean houses twice a year: before Christmas and before Easter. Can’t think of putting up Christmas decorations without tidying the house thoroughly first :) At least that’s the tradition … There’s definitely not enough time between Christmas and New Year to do any cleaning – you just peacefully rest after Christmas (enjoying the clean house and leftover food) and await New Year …

  4. Misty says

    It’s a Scot tradition too. My mom had been doing it for years before she learned that – AND we just happened to have Scot ancestry.

  5. mommyjoy12 says

    I LOVE this idea! New Years is one of two favorite holidays (July 4th is the other).
    One tradition we have is to help our children pick one goal (usually quite significant) they really want to focus on the most or a new challenge/adventure that will be coming in the new year. We then get them something that will help accomplish, assist, encourage or make easier what they have decided(a violin and lessons for a daughter who wanted to learn to play, baseball training videos and books and a t-ball set for a son who wanted to learn baseball, a suit and a personal set of scriptures for a boy who would be entering Primary). For younger children we pick something that would strengthen them in an area and the parents participate as well. We all then become each other’s cheerleaders in these areas and check up on them formally in family meetings, interviews and then casually in everyday conversations.

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