Slainte! (To your health!)
O-Jizo san, The Grateful Statues ~ A Japanese Folktale
Once upon a time an old man and an old woman were living in a country village in Japan. They were very poor and spent every day weaving big hats out of straw. Whenever they finished a number of hats, the old man would take them to the nearest town to sell them.
One day the old man said to the old woman: "New Year's is the day after tomorrow. How I wish we had some rice-cakes to eat on New Year's Day! Even one or two little cakes would be enough. Without some rice-cakes we can't even celebrate New Year's."
So early the next morning the old man took the five new hats that they had made, and went to town to sell them. But after he got to town he was unable to sell a single hat. And to make things still worse, it began to snow very hard.
The old man was very sad as he began trudging wearily back toward his village. He was going along a lonesome mountain trail when he suddenly came upon a row of six stone statues of Jizo, the protector of children, all covered with snow.
"My, my! Now isn't this a pity," the old man said. "These are only stone statues of Jizo, but even so just think how cold they must be standing here in the snow."So he unfastened the five new hats from his back and began tying them, one by one, on the heads of the Jizo statues.
"My! That was a very kind thing you did for the Jizo," said the old woman. She was very proud of the old man, and went on: "It's better to do a kind thing like that than to have all the rice-cakes in the world. We'll get along without any rice-cakes for New Year's."
"A kind old man walking in the snow
Gave all his hats to the stone Jizo.
So we bring him gifts with a yo-heave-ho!"
The sounds came right up to the house where the old man and woman were sleeping. And then all at once there was a great noise, as though something had been put down just in front of the house.
They saw some tracks in the snow leading away from their house. The snow was all tinted with the colors of dawn, and there in the distance, walking over the snow, were the .six stone Jizo, still wearing the hats which the old man had given them.
Another version of the story:
Long, long ago, in a mountain hamlet there lived an old couple and their only child, their beloved daughter, Dalai. She was a dutiful daughter who went up into the mountains daily to chop and collect firewood.
Now on the southern slope lived a hardy young man named Jin Yu. He too would go into the mountains to gather firewood, and one day he encountered Dalai. They began to chat and soon became friends. For the rest of the story click here:
|The Fairy's New Year Gift from|
Good Stories for Great Holidays
"May I not keep mine a little longer?" asked Philip. "I have hardly thought about it lately. I'd like to paint something on the last leaf that lies open."
"No," said the Fairy; "I must take it just as it is." For the rest of the story click here .
- The New Year was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago with the first New Moon, after the Vernal Equinox or the first day of spring
- Their celebration lasted 11 days. In 153 B.C. the Roman senate declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year.
- Greece began the tradition of signifying the New Year with a baby in 300 B.C.
FOOD TO ENSURE GOOD LUCK IN THE NEW YEAR
- Eat 12 grapes, one grape for each month of the year, for prosperity.
- Eating pork on New Year’s Day is lucky because pigs eat moving forward. Therefore, those who eat pork will move forward in the coming year.
- Poultry should never be eaten on January 1. Poultry scratch for their food, so those who eat poultry will "scratch" for their food all year.
- Many cultures believe that eating food in the shape of a ring on New Year’s Day will bring luck throughout the year. It signifies “coming full circle.”
- Eating cabbage is also good luck as the leaves symbolize paper currency and prosperity. Legumes, black- eyed peas, and ham are also thought to bring wealth if they are consumed on New Year’s Day.
Toasting can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks. The host would drink first to assure his guest the wine was not poisoned. Since wine was not as refined as it is today they would place a square of burnt bread (toast) in the wine bowl. The bread was placed there to absorb the extra acidity of the wine. Eventually, drinking in unison came to be called a toast, from the act of “toasting” or putting toast in wine.
MORE TRADITIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
“I’m Turning Over a New Leaf”
Easy to Read Folktale Plays to Teach Conflict Resolution – Extension Activities to complement the story of The Grateful Statues.
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Karen Chace 2011 ©
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