In Japan 'tis the season for bonenkai (忘年会, "forget the year parties"). Clubs, companies, volunteer groups, all sorts of organizations hold parties at which food, drink and frivolity mark, in a carnivalesque mode, the approaching end of the current year. There are similarities to "office parties" elsewhere. I wonder about differences. 

The Japanese name for these parties is, to this American-born gaijin striking. Why should the year be forgotten? Does forgotten equal forgiven? A wiping the slate clean before the new year begins? 

What about comedy? I have the impression that office parties in the West are seen as a occasions for what might otherwise (or still) be seen as scandalous behavior. A high-tech newsletter to which I subscribe online recently featured an advice column recommending that those looking for promotion keep their clothes on during such parties. It could be just my age and the company I keep, but my sense is that while a good deal of silliness goes on at Japanese bonenkai, sexual teasing is generally avoided. 

Anyway, I thought it might be in the spirit of the season to ask members of OAC, a notably international crowd, if parties are held in their home countries to mark the end of the year? And, if so, what goes on at them? Is there anything they see as distinctively local in what goes on?

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