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Celebrate the New Year with Kadomatsu through Jan. 12

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Visit the Japanese Garden to discover this 700-year-old art.

Celebrate the New Year with Kadomatsu through Jan. 12

A traditional kadomatsu arrangement at the Japanese Garden gate. Photo by ABQ BioPark.

December 31, 2013

Traditional kadomatsu flank the entrance of the Sasebo Japanese Garden. In Japanese culture, kadomatsu at thresholds capture good spirits and represent good luck. Celebrate the New Year with these bamboo, pine and plum blossom arrangements through January 12.

Kadomatsu first appeared as a new year's tradition in Japan's Heian period more than 700 years ago. The arrangements attract good spirits called kami, which are worshipped in the Shinto religion. The pine carries strength and longevity, bamboo embodies flexibility and the plum blossom instills hope and endurance because it is the first thing to bloom in spring.

"We wanted to show how people celebrate holiday traditions in other cultures, and kadomatsu in the Japanese Garden seemed like the perfect way to do it," said Maria Thomas, BioPark Garden Assistant Curator. "The bamboo, pine and plum, known as the three friends of winter, represent a great sentiment for the new year."

Garden staff has been creating kadomatsu for the past five years. Toru Tanaka, the landscape architect who designed the Sasebo Japanese Garden, showed Thomas and the rest of the staff how to create the arrangements. In previous years, Tanaka has sent materials for kadomatsu, but this year, staff collected pine and bamboo from the Botanic Garden.

"It takes us awhile to remember how to tie the plum blossom knot, but it's definitely worth the effort," said Thomas. "The finished arrangements are beautiful and symbolic. They are meant to bring hope, strength and prosperity to families who put them outside their homes."

After the New Year begins, the kadomatsu are burned in a ceremony to release the good spirits. BioPark staff will remove the kadomatsu and burn their arrangements on January 12 to ensure a vibrant and beautiful Botanic Garden in 2014.

To learn more about kadomatsu, watch a video with Maria Thomas and visit the Botanic Garden. The Sasebo Japanese Garden is included with regular admission. For more information, email biopark@cabq.gov or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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