書初め (Kakizome) is the first calligraphy written at the beginning of a year, traditionally done on January 2nd. This tradition is often combined with writing 新年の抱負, which means “New Year’s resolutions.”
People used to write their wishes for the New Year on 年賀状 (New Year’s greeting cards). People believed that the paper and ink used for calligraphy were significant because the quality of the materials reflected their determination.
During elementary school, kakizome is usually part of the homework assigned for the new year’s break. Students would be given a word or a phrase to write and they must bring it to the first day of school. During the first weeks back at school, the walls will be covered with the display of everyone’s kakizome.
As a child, I didn’t quite enjoy it. (TBH, I hated it!) I saw it as I had to stop the holiday fun that I was having with my cousins, to sit still to work on the calligraphy. And my kakizome was never that great. So It wasn’t fun at all! But now I realize that it’s a great tradition. I wish I took it more seriously and practiced it more. haha.
Many people nowadays put their resolutions on social media or other online platforms to share their goals with others and get support and motivation. How do you share your new year’s resolutions? Let me know!
Wishing you a year in which all your dreams and hopes come true!