What kind of New Year’s events are there in your country? In Japan, there are “toshikosisoba”, “osechi-ryouri”, “hatsumoude”, “shimekazari” and so on. Many people visit Japan in spring to see cherry blossom or in autumn to enjoy red leaves. However, I think New year season is also good to visit. This time I want to write about Japanese style of New Year.
How much do you know about Japan’s New Year?
In Japan, we have a lot of customs at New Year. At first, we eat “toshikosisoba” on New Year’s Eve. Soba noodles are long and narrower, so we eat them in hopes with longevity.
Also ⅿany people go first visit to temple or shrine. We call it “hatsumoude”. We wish happiness and some people buy amulets. We can also draw a fortune.
Besides that, Japanese children can receive “otoshidama” which is some gifts of money from adults like parents and relatives. I think many children are looking forward to it.
Moreover, we eat “osechi-ryouri”. It is gorgeous and delicious. Let’s know about “osechi-ryouri”.
2.What is “osechi-ryouri”?
“Osechi-ryouri” is traditional Japanese New Year’s food. Originally, osechi-ryouri were not limited to new year, but from the Edo period, they came to be eaten only new year, which is the most important day of the year. It is desired for good health and great harvest for a year. It is consisting with long-lasting food and flavored strongly so that woman don’t have to cook early new year. They taste good without heating. The contents are made up of lucky ingredients, and each dish is filled with a wish. The food is placed in a stackable container called a “ojyu” and usually stacked on two to three layers. This is also having a wish to have many happiness things in that year.
3. What does it mean?
Osechi-ryouri are composing with many kinds of dishes. But now, I’m going to pick up some of dishes and explain their meanings.
Kazunoko is an egg of herring. Mainly we eat pickled in soy sauce or salt. It has a mean to hopes their offspring will prosper because herring lays many eggs at once.
Kamabako is a fish paste with a semilunar shape. We ｅａｔ with soy sauce, wasabi, or as it is. Ｂａｓｉｃａｌｌｙ, we put red and white kamaboco together. This color and shape symbolize sunrise. Also red means delight and exorcism, white means holiness and cleanliness. It can be fashioned by devising the cutting method.
Kurikinton is a sweets made of sweet potato and chestnut. It contains a wish to be rich this year because kurikinton’s color is golden. Also, since it has been called kachiguri meaning winning chestnut at long times ago, chestnuts is treated as a lucky item.
Shrimp’s shape are very bent and it looks like an older people, we are eating it with the hope that I could live a long life until my back bent. In osechi-ryouri we cooked them sweetly and satlty. It tastes like teriyaki. Sometimes it grilled with just only salts.
⑤Hanarenkon (flower lotus root)
Hanarenkon is seasoned with vinegar and sugar. It is very sour, so it may be dislike for some people. There are many holes in lotus roots, which means that you can see the future. We eat it at the new year with praying to be a bright year.
4. Changing New Year’s Food
For a long time osechi-ryouri were made at home.It contains many dishes, so it takes a lot of times to make. But now we can get it at convenience stores and department stores. Recently, it is also being made with some arrangements like Western and Chinese in addition to Japanese-style dishes. Some of the rare items are “sweets osechi” which are made by only cakes and packed with ojyu. Also, it is sold at big plates instead of ojyu.
5. What is New Year’s food in other countries?
I’ve seen Japanese New Year’s food, but what kind of good luck food do other country eats?
France: “Garet de Rois”
This is a cake sold in the New Year. There is a gallet of almond cream in the pie dough. The cake contains a ceramic doll called Fève, and the people who take a piece with that doll is the winner. Winner is said to be able to become a king or queen and be happy for a year. Recently, lot of patisseries and bakeries are selling it in Japan too. If you have a chance, please try it.
Italy: “Cotechino and Lenticchie”
This is a stew dishes of lentils. Cotechino is a large sausage, and lenticchie means lentils. Pork have a mean to health and prosperity and lentils similar form of coins, so they have wishes, such as raising money.
Spain: “Good Luck 12 grapes”
Spain have a custom to eat 12 grapes when they reach the new year while the bell is ringing. The bell will ring 12 times every 3 seconds, so everyone must eat it at highly pace. It was said that if you succeed to eat all of 12 grapes, the new year will bring happiness.
We can see that there are a lot of traditional New Year’s meals at all over the world. In each country have a same hope to be a happiness year. If you visit Japan on New Year’s season, please try our traditional food “osechi-ryouri”.