Lunar New Year (旧正月-kyūshōgatsu)

The Lunar New Year Ceremony was held on Saturday, February the 2nd at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

We used to celebrate Lunar New Year until Meiji Restoration (1867), but nowadays, we cerebrate the Gregorian New Year (the same as Canada) as the Japanese government does not designate the old lunisolar new year as a public holiday.

This year’s Lunar New Year Ceremony at pier 21 was my third contribution to the Ceremony and I had a booth to demonstrate how to play Karuta, Japanese Playing Cards.

Karuta is a word originally from Portugal, carta. Karuta was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese traders during the mid-16th century. Japanese children play Karuta during the New Year holiday and this is a good way to learn Hiragana. We play Karuta this way; a host of Karuta reads a short sentence, and children listen carefully the first sound of the sentence, and find the card which matches to the sound. To play this cards, children need to know how to read Hiragana and its sound. Hiragana is the basic Japanese phonetic alphabet, which Japanese chidden need to learn first before move onto Katakana, and Kanji. For this cerebration, most of the Canadian children are not able to read Hiragana, so we showed the first character to the players, and they tried to find the matching cards.

Samantha-san is one of my students of my Japanese lessons. Here is Samantha-san hosting children playing Karuta. Thank you very much for your help. You did an amazing job!