By that, I mean Christmas and New Years. Now I know there are Jewish and Pagan and other holidays in there, but I’m going off the Atheist holidays, which as far as I’ve observed includes a variant of Christmas (yes, with the same spelling!), so all the religious nuts who complain about Christians and their stupid holidays can go stuff it, because ALL the atheists I am aware of that I know (and many of the Buddhists and Pagans, too) celebrate Christmas.
Anyway, if you have a severe problem with the holiday, maybe you should move to Japan! Okay, they play some Christmas music every now and then in stores, and a FEW people put up lights (but they don’t call them “lights”, they call them “elimination”, I mean, “illumination”… but it sounds like the former), and the big stations have more grand light displays, but those are hardly religious.
Those who know me know I’ve never been really big on the whole “religious” meaning that the Catholic churched forced the pagans they were overtaking in the British Isle to choke down about baby Jesus, but it doesn’t much bother me that people choose that holiday to remind themselves of such, so I can’t really say I missed the Christian parts much. (Plus I hung out at church for the party there and did some caroling with them which was, er, awkward at best, so I got about as much of that as I’m used to.) What it is, for me, is a MAJOR day when my whole family gets together. It doesn’t matter why, it’s just a day that I’m with family, and a time of the year that I’ve become used to being around friends and loved ones.
For those who don’t already know (I had email communication, after all, during the 1 month+ hiatus I’ve managed to take from the blog), I didn’t do anything on Christmas. I slept in, woke up, said, “Well, Merry Christmas” to myself (everyone else was gone, since my host-mom and daughter went to Alaska over the break to see aurora borealis, and it’s not a work-holiday in Japan), and then went back to programming. I did that more or less all day, and then maybe had some food or went to Akiba to play some arcades, and went home (though that may have been a different day), and slept. Just a normal day. *sigh* It was rough realizing that it was JUST going to be a normal day for me.
Oh! But I did talk to my older brother online for a while. That was exciting! So Merry Christmas, I used video chat! ^^;;
New Years is a much bigger holiday, one for which even the post offices (and hence their handy-dandy ATMs) close! It’s also about as close as the Japanese come to having a major religious holiday. That’s not to say that the Japanese take their “religion” terribly SERIOUSLY, but they do follow its rituals. I think they do it because of a sense of cultural pride more than for any real belief in the systems. There’s plenty of evidence that it was all made up, and they may even learn a lot of the evidence in school as they grow up. But there are TWO major things. First, you have the “ringing in” of the new year, which happens, literally, by the various shrines around the country and throughout neighborhoods ringing their gigantic bells (reserved for the attention retrieval of various locally worshipped deities) several times. But BEFORE that, there’s this wonderful, government-sponsored TV program with a whole lot of singers and performers. I was feeling pretty crappy that day, so I didn’t really stay and watch — I went back to programming — but it looked, uh, interesting. ^_^ I can’t say much more for it than that, I thin.
Finally, about 20 minutes before the new year began, they went and got me and we all had soba, traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles which you take and dip into a very yummy sauce and slurp. I guess the idea is that by EATING something long and noodley, your LIFE will also be long, um, like a noodle… I’m not sure if I want my life to be QUITE as floppy and/or flimsy as your average soba noodle after being cooked, but like with most Japanese religious traditions, they just take the meanings they WANT from the symbols without worrying too much about the COMPLETE metaphor. It’s kind of fun, actually. If you’re not sick.
And since then, I’ve been relaxing, shopping, and then today (in effort to increase the “fun” rating of my break and also to drive the last of this damnable cold from my body) I went to Akiba and played DDR for… ROUGHLY… um… about 5 hours or so. Not straight, I mean we had to take turns with those around us, but I did take off about an hour for lunch, which it didn’t take an hour… But yeah. It was awesome, and I started getting back to my former level, which is to say, about half as good as one of the two guys. They’re both up there, one being clearly better than the other, and I’m not sure which one I’m half-way as good as, but it’s one of them, I’m sure! ^_^
I’ll try to get some more stuff up soon. I have some wonderful little tidbits I’ve picked up in the last month or so, plus various things I’ve collected here and not shared yet (hoping to build up to a full post’s worth of tidbits), so doing better in the future about updating with previous frequency is looking like a strong possibility. ~_^