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Learning about different rituals

Saturday, January 25 was a special day for the Chinese and Scots. As the former were celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Rat, the latter were tucking into hearty portions of haggis.

It’s fascinating to learn about rituals that accompany important celebrations.

A Burns Supper has a well-documented order of service including piping in the haggis, a toast to the lassies and an abundance of tartan.

Omikuji in the Senso-Ji temple in Tokyo.
Omikuji in the Senso-Ji temple in Tokyo.

A Chinese New Year celebration usually includes red packets of money, fireworks to drive off evil and a thorough house cleaning.

Looking at the Chinese zodiac, I’m a dragon: a strong, fearless career woman. In western astrology, however, I was born under the sign of Cancer so I’m generally seen as a moody home-maker with a penchant for collecting stuff.

Whether I’m a feisty individual or a sensitive old soul, the likelihood of me having a good day is apparently beyond my control.

I used to love checking my horoscope when I was younger, usually to see whether I was compatible with a prospective boyfriend. How on earth I ended up with an Aries, I’ll never know.

Today I’m not particularly interested in fortune-telling. Or, at least, I wasn’t until we visited the shrines and temples in Japan. There, I couldn’t get enough of their good luck rituals.

We first came across ‘omikuji’ in the Senso-Ji temple in Tokyo. For 100 yen, visitors choose a numbered stick from a wooden box. Find the drawer with the matching number and take out a little slip of paper on which you find your fortune.

On that day, Dougie and I were both lucky to receive good fortunes.

We were also lucky to have the fortunes translated into English.

Later in the holiday, in another temple, we tried another omikuji.

Unfortunately, the fortunes were all in Japanese characters. We had no idea whether we were doomed or not.

This was important to know, as our actions after receiving the fortune depended on us knowing if it was good or bad.

Blessings are kept, maybe in a pocket or purse. Curses, on the other hand, are tied up on metal wires, ‘musubidokoro’, at the temple, so you leave your bad luck behind.

What if I had a bad one, but mistakenly took it home with me? This was serious.

It took some online research before we unravelled the main gist of the message. Great blessings upon us!

Thank the gods for that.

You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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