小正月【Koshogatsu】

The word shogatsu, which is politely referred to as o-shogatsu, historically meant the first month of the lunar calendar. The calendar was changed from the lunar calendar to the Gregorian solar calendar in 1872. Since then the shogatsu period has been set according to the Gregorian calendar. Today, shogatsu generally means the first three days of the year or the first week of January. Japan had as many as three different New Year’s periods when the lunar calendar was used. One was oshogatsu, which means big New Year, the day that fell on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar. The other New Year was called koshogatsu which means little New Year. Koshogatsu referred to the three-day period in the middle of the first month that includes the fifteenth day. The third New Year was called setsubun. This festival took place on the last day of winter, the third day of the second month, according to the lunar calendar. People celebrated setsubun because they thought that the next day was the first day of spring, and therefore the first day of the year.

現在日本で一般的に祝われている「お正月」は、太陽暦(グレゴリウス暦)に基づくお正月です。明治5年(1872年)に太陰暦から太陽暦に改暦されるまでは、太陰暦に基づく三つのお正月が存在していました。一つは1月1日の「大正月(おおしょうがつ)」、もう一つは1月15日を中心とする3日間で「小正月(こしょうがつ)」と呼ばれていました。三つ目のお正月は「節分」で、陰暦の冬最後の日に当たる2月3日に行われていました。これは、節分の次の日からは春、つまり新しい年が始まることを祝うお正月でした。

Koshogatsu, little New Year, started with the first full moon of the year and was also referred to as the second New Year. Koshogatsu was closely related to agriculture. The principles of yin and yang taught that the goddess of agriculture named Toshitokujin or Toshigami brought good fortune for the year. Therefore, koshogatsu is still celebrated now, mainly in rural areas in Japan, where many people are still engaged in agriculture.

小正月は一年の最初の満月の日に始まるお正月で、「二番正月」とも言われています。小正月は農耕との関連が深いお正月です。陰陽道(おんようどう)では、一年の福徳をつかさどる神を歳徳神(としとくじん)または年神(としがみ)と呼び、この神は農業の神であると考えられてきました。このため、小正月は現在でも農村地域を中心に祝われています。

During the koshogatsu period people pray for an abundant harvest for the year. Various events also take place. Japanese people make decorations for koshogatsu such as mayudamas to bring good luck. Mayudamas are bamboo or willow twigs hung with many small cocoon-shaped rice cakes or dumplings. Oval-shaped Japanese gold coins, treasure ships, and other such things are hung from between the rice cakes and dumplings. The gold coins are called kobans and the treasure ships are called takarabunes in Japanese. They are both believed to bring good fortune. There are many other events that take place during the koshogatsu period. The event called toshiura tells us whether the harvest for the year will be good or bad and how the weather will be during the year. Torioi and dondo are also typical events that take place during the koshogatsu period.

小正月には、豊作を祈願する様々な行事が行われます。豊作を祈願する縁起物に「繭玉(まゆだま)」があります。繭玉は繭の豊作を祈るもので、柳や竹などの枝に繭の形に丸めた小さな餅や団子をたくさんつけ、その間に小判や宝船などの縁起物をつるした飾り物です。この他にもその年の農作の豊凶や天候を占う年占(としうら)の行事や、鳥追い、どんどなどの行事も行われます。

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