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The new year brings a fresh start, symbolized in some cultures by the cherubic baby New Year who replaces the old year that has come to a close. In Japan, the roly-poly god Hotei, who is often identified with Santa Claus, ushers in the new year along with six other gods of good fortune; together, they form the Seven Lucky Gods, or Shichi Fukujin in Japanese.

Megan Bryson
Bryson

Megan Bryson, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a scholar of East Asian religions who studies the transformation of deities transformations over time. She often explains to her students that cross-cultural encounters produce new understandings and images of gods. Read the full article on The Conversation.

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Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, lowen8@utk.edu)