• 2016.01.29
  • Year End and New Year’s in Washington, D.C.
This has been a mild winter here in Washington, D.C. Especially on Christmas Eve, the temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius, and even moving around in a light long-sleeve top made it feel hot.

23706315429_77568095dd_zThis ball gradually comes down from the early afternoon.

I had been getting all ready for my first real winter in Washington, D.C., and as I was starting to feel like this was all a bit of a disappointment, it suddenly dropped 10 degrees below 0 during the following week! Having grown up where it never gets below 0 during the day, I felt like my cheeks were going to be torn to pieces from the cold, despite wearing a lot of clothes.
Fortunately for me, the temperature rose again in just a few days, gradually getting to the temperature like the winter in Japan, and the number of times all the snow suits and gloves we prepared for our kids were actually used could be counted on one’s fingers. Apparently, this winter is particularly warm for this region.

Talking about Washington, D.C., the cherry trees are well known, but these trees come in quite a few varieties. Some typically blossom in early March when it’s still cold.
These varieties seemed to have gotten thrown off by the unusual temperatures, and blossomed even before Christmas. The magnolia in front of our house had huge buds, getting all ready to blossom like it’s already waiting for the warmth to hit.


Christmas in the West feels like New Year’s in Japan. It really is, and Americans just view January 1 as the day when the year changes.
On New Year’s Eve, people party with friends, watching the countdown event in New York on television as they drink and party. Of course, there’s no such tradition of visiting the shrine when the new year begins, and most people enter the new year with a hangover.

2A scene of Times Square right after entering the new year

Beginning from Thanksgiving Day, the long holiday season comes to a close on New Year’s Day. Since people aren’t as excited as they are on Thanksgiving or Christmas, most shops are open for business, but they look deserted with many people getting ready to get back to work the following day.
Since this New Year’s fell on a weekend, most people went back to school and work on the 4th, and for me it took a while for the feeling of Japan’s New Year’s to come loose.

With lots of regions covered in snow, which makes it hard work just to step outside the house, this time of the year is Washington, D.C.’s slow season.
There are very few people out and not much fun events, so it’ll likely feel desolate for a while until the cherry blossom festival of mid-March.



  • Ritsuko Derickson
  • JobStay-at-home mom

Moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 after getting married. Due to her husband’s work, shortly thereafter they moved to Oahu, Hawaii, then returned to Washington, D.C., in 2015. She lives together with her husband, their son born near the end of 2014 and one Shiba dog.

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