Shimekazari New Years Decorations

During New Years, the Japanese make their houses festive with a few Shinto traditional decorations.  One of these is Shimekazari, which is braided rope decorated with straw and paper.  It invites good spirits in and wards off evil spirits.  It is hung on the front door of your house at the end of the year and is taken down on New Years Day.  Typically, you bring your Shimekazari to a shrine on New Years Day, where they burn them.  Not doing so can bring you bad luck for the year.  They range from simple (500 yen) to extremely ornate and beautiful (I’ve seen some for 5000 yen, but I’m sure they get more expensive).

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Last year, I kept up my Shimekazari for too long (until the 4th.. which is bad luck) and because I wasn’t aware of the traditions, I kept it for the whole year!  So far, we’ve had a pretty good year so I’m reusing mine again this year.  I figure I’d start my own traditions as taboo as they might be :)

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