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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in Japan Series on JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 24: Year-End Parties.
(忘年会)bounenkai or Year-End Parties are banquets held at the end of each year in order to forget the troubles and hard times of the year. Rather than saying "forget," it’s easier to understand by using expressions such as "Let bygones be bygones" or "Reset ourselves for the coming New Year." These parties are dinners held not with feelings of regret for the past, but with feelings of motivation to start afresh and do one's best.
Now, before we go further, do you know the answer to this question: in which famous novel of the Meiji period does the phrase (忘年会)bounenkai or “Year-End Party” appear?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
For company year-end parties, work colleagues get together, and for private year-end parties, friends and private groups get together. In either case, December is pleasantly spent eating, drinking, and commemorating the events of the year.
Just as is suggested by the coined word "alcommunication" from "communication," Japanese people prefer to strengthen their relationships while eating delicious food and drinking alcohol. It’s for these reasons that year-end parties are held throughout the country.
When looking back at the year, it’s natural to not only look back at what was good and brought happiness, but also remember the hard times. At year-end parties, it’s important that all participants share the feeling that while many things happened this year, they will try to do their best in the New Year. People renew their vitality for work and social circles for the coming New Year.
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that the oldest literature containing references to year-end parties is thought to have come from the Muromachi period of the 14th and 15th centuries? It mentions holding a party and drinking after poetry recitals held at the end of the year.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question: in which Meiji-era novel does the phrase (忘年会)bounenkai or "Year-End Party" appear?
The correct answer is I Am a Cat by 夏目漱石 (Sōseki Natsume). The book includes a description of a year-end party and concert at the home of an acquaintance of 向島 (Mukōjima), with the word (忘年会)bounenkai or "year-end party" notably being used without annotation. From this, it’s believed that year-end parties were quite commonplace in the Meiji era, the time in which Sōseki was alive.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have year-end parties?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!