Today's the day to

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Today's the day to break the kagami mochi and to burn all the holiday decorations.

Kagami mochi is the double-decker offering of sticky rice made at the new year. By now, it's gone hard and cripy and after scraping off the mold which has no doubt accumulated, you must crack it with a hammer into small pieces. It's unlucky to use a knife. You can use the shattered fragments in soup, mix them in with rice or any number of dishes.

All of the holiday decorations--bamboo festoons, pine branches warding off evil--all get tossed onto a communal fire at a temple. Any bad luck caught in them is immolated , keeping your home and hearth safe and happy for the remainder of the year.

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