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Front doors decorated with Christmas wreath in USA and Shimenawa wreath in Japan

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In the winter season, holiday wreaths are displayed in USA and Japan as well. Following is a comparison of holiday wreath and its related situation and background between USA and Japan. We can find common points and also different points as mentioned below:

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In December, front doors of American homes are finely dressed up with Christmas wreaths. In January, front doors of Japanese homes are decorated with Shimenawa wreath in Japan. The common point is both ornaments are mounted on front doors. Different point is American wreath is displayed during Christmas season but Japanese Shimenawa wreath is displayed on New Year’s holidays in January. While the religious background of American holiday wreath is Christianity, Japanese Shimenawa wreath comes from Shinto which is a Japanese traditional religion.

Another common point is both Christmas wreaths and Shimenawa wreaths often use evergreens. The material of base wreath for Christmas wreath is grass, raffia and vine etc. However the material of core wreath of Shimanawa wreath is ropes made of rice straws or hemps.

Although Christmas wreaths are usually mounted on the eye level height of the front door, Japanese Shimenawa wreath is placed at much higher location of the front door. The color of majority of Christmas wreath is green. However Shimenawa wreath keeps the original color of rice straws that is light brown.

What we recently find with Shimenawa wreath is it is getting colorful and the way of decoration is modernized. Especially the ornaments attached to the rope is much more colorful. Therefore some of them do not look like Japanese traditional Shimenawa wreaths. They are evolving seemingly due to the influence of American culture.

In the United States, it is quite popular for ordinary people to enjoy DIY project for making holiday wreaths when getting closer to Christmas although many people buy ready-made wreaths at the market. In Japan, only limited number of people enjoy DIY project for making Shimenawa wreath. The vast majority of Shimenawa wreaths are hand-made by professional crafters. One of the reasons behind this situation MAY be that making ropes from rice straws is quite difficult and only few professionals who are well trained can do this job. Some people buy completed plain wreath at the market and enjoy decorating it by placing ornaments on the rope. However the absolute number of DIY fans seem to be quite limited in Japan.

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