Source: Los Angeles Times
On January 3, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported that members of the Konko Church of Los Angeles celebrated the new year with a purifying ceremony using elements of an ancient Japanese ritual "aimed at clearing out the negative energies of the past... Although New Year's Day has become a secular holiday for many Americans, it has long been associated with spiritual cleansing and renewal in many traditions. Even in the West, New Year's Eve noisemakers and fireworks once were used as tools to banish evil spirits." The article describes purification rituals in Shinto traditions, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.