I was asked if New Years in Japan means Fireworks, partying hard, traffic jam everywhere because everyone is out celebrating… Umm.. Nope(?)
People are going back to their hometown few days before new years, therefore stores/ shop mostly closed. Tokyo and surroundings cities gone quiet.
Our New Years ritual, started by having 年越しそば（Toshikoshi soba）for dinner while watching Kohaku Japanese’s special New Year’s TV program.
Some have Toshikoshisoba for dinner, or even at midnight, as the year change.
Why do we eat this calorie packed soba at these late hours?
Well, looooong soba length is associated looooong live. So when we eat soba, we pray that our live’s gonna be as long as this soba. Capisce?
I like my Toshikoshi soba with some Tempura btw.
They next day, we will be preparing Osechi.
Osechi is a food that is eaten for the mornings, lunches and dinners (if we’re not bored already) during the 1st-3rd of January. It consist of delicacies that we prepared and bought the ingredients two days before new year.
The contents is pretty varied and colorful, so I actually don’t get bored of eating Osechi. I even still have some left in the fridge and still eating them 😀
Some people buy Osechi in an already nicely boxed ones from the supermarket.
We kinda buy some of the ingredients, cook and prepare it ourself.
Osechi is said to be the most important food on that year. Why, because there’s a meaning of each of the Osechi food. We eat each of them, knowing the meaning of each food, while praying for the best for this year.
These are the meanings of some of the Osechi food that I know:
Ebi: It is associated with long live because of the shape of the Ebi, looks like a very old person with bent back and long beard.
Kuringkinton (candied chestnut): The yellow color of Kuringkinton is associated with the color gold. It looks like gold coins, therefore it symbolize getting rich this year 😀
Kamaboko (cured surimi): The half circle shape, bordered with slightly pink colors, symbolize the sunrise of new year. Wooohoo, new day, new resolutions! (OMG, I haven’t decided on any resolution).
Kombumaki (rolled sea weeds): Symbolize educations, because of the shape that looks like a long-undiscovered secret scroll from H*rry P****s. We are expected to be smarter this year, by reading more scrolls, ehm, books.
Renkon (Lotus root): Lotus is also the image of Buddhism. The holes on the Lotus root, symbolize ways and peepholes to see a brighter future ahead.
Kuromame (black sweetened soy beans): Wordplay of Mamechishiki that means ‘bits of knowledge’. Again we are expected to be more knowledgable this year. Oh, pressure, pressure….
Alright… Can you tell which one is which…
Anyways it’s a taboo to cook/ work on the first three days of new year. Because everyone been working hard the rest of the 362 days already and for these three days, we deserve a holiday 😀