Updated: Jan 18
Merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Like most students around the world, December is a week of completing tests and trying to live through everything. In this blog, you can expect Japanese student's school life from December to March. Because there's a lot that happens other than study such as winter break, graduation (which is a complete culture shock!) and Valentine (which is also quite different) Hope you enjoy!
Events in Winter (December- March)
DECEMBER: Final exams
When December hits, there is a rush of panic and stress, no celebration (yet)...To students who want to do club activities, club is usually hold off prior to exams. But everyone gets through the rigorous week of studying and excited to spend the holiday season.
An interesting cultural shock in Japan is that although we are not a Christian country, we celebrate Christmas. Children write wish letters for Santa and eat Christmas cake. Usually, children will get one or two presents if they were very good. But no stockings. However, December 25th is not a national holiday so parents go to work and children have school!
From December 26th, people are really busy because they have to replace all the Christmas decoration to New Years decoration. Yes, we do not keep the Christmas trees up till the following year. Another interesting culture is that people do a DEEP clean of their houses during the end of the year. It is a custom to welcome the new year with a clean home.
During New Years we eat a special food called "Osechi" which is a 2-3 tier box full of small meals. In addition, people do calligraphy to write their new years resolution. We also go to Shrines to make a wish.
In Japanese lunar calendar, December is called "Shiwasu". This comes from monks being super busy during this season.
January: back to school!
In Japan, school ends in march and the start of a new school year is April. That is why, after winter break, students start to get ready for the up coming new school year. For graduating grades, they will start practicing graduation ceremonies.
Valentine is VERY unique because, only girls give chocolate to boys! And there are different types of chocolates, such as "friend chocolate" which is for good friends, usually exchange of chocolate between girls. And "real chocolate" is for romantic couples. "Giri choco" is a chocolate given by women to men as a showing of daily appreciation. On March 14th, men who received chocolate give back by gifting small presents.
Graduation ceremony is a big deal for most schools. We spend countless hours practicing songs, rehearsing the whole ceremony, and making sure that everyone memorizes their lines. Usually, cherry blossoms will start to blossom during this time which is very beautiful. For the rest of the students, it is the last time to spend with classmates and teachers because for most schools, class gets mixed up every year. Public school teachers get moved to different schools too. It is a time for closure to the school year.
Thank you for reading this far.
That raps the end of our short series, the yearly introduction of Japanese school life and events. We hope you enjoyed it! If there is anything about the series that you found interesting or want to know, please let us know by clicking here.
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