“New Year customs” related to the seasons

The connection between events and meals

The special dishes eaten during seasonal events and celebrations symbolize Japanese culture and climate.

Event foods contain the meaning of wishing for the happiness and health of the family, and may differ depending on regional characteristics, such as ``Osechi ryori.'' Many of them incorporate seasonal ingredients, and are one of the seasonal features.

Originally, the annual event was also called ``Hare no Hi'' as ``a day to call upon the gods and offer a feast,'' and was distinguished from everyday life (Hare no Hi) by displaying delicacies that were not found on the regular dining table. Not only the food we eat, but also the clothes we wear and the formalities of our rooms have been used to differentiate between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

In addition to such celebratory events, the Japanese, who were an agricultural people, used rice cultivation as a guideline for seasonal changes, and held events on days that served as a guideline to express gratitude for the harvest.
It's easy to get sick during the change of seasons, so by providing "food knowledge" (such as "pumpkin of the winter solstice" and eel of "Doyou no Ushi") that is incorporated in Zosetsu and Hassetsu, you can help keep your health in check. It is the wisdom that has been spun by people who wisely survive difficult times.

Click here for information on [Going through the seasons - New Year's customs]

[New Year's food]


1. New Year dishes

Osechi-ryori (Osechi-ryori) is now a dish that is often eaten during New Year's Day, but ``Osechi'' originally referred to seasonal festivals on the calendar, and was a dish eaten on ``Hare no Hi'', a festival celebrated at the turn of the seasons.

Originally, osechi was made as an offering to the god of old age, but it has many other meanings as well.

・Receive blessings by eating food offered to the gods together. ・Do not be in a hurry when welcoming the gods. ・Do not use the kitchen (do not cook).

・Osechi ingredients

Osechi ryori uses many ingredients, and it is common to prepare 20 to 30 types (depending on the region and family). Additionally, if the number of items is even, it will be divisible by 2, so it is said that it is better to choose odd numbers, which have long been considered good luck.

Osechi can be divided into five types : ``celebratory side dishes'', ``kuchitori'', ``grilled dishes'', ``sunomono'', and ``simmered dishes'' .

"Celebration appetizer"

As the name suggests, celebratory appetizers are prepared as accompaniments to alcoholic beverages at a celebration venue, and each of the ``three types of celebratory appetizers'' is filled with a wish.
In the Kanto region, there are three common types : ``herring roe,'' ``black beans,'' and ``tazukuri,'' and in the Kansai region, ``herring roe,'' ``black beans ,'' and ``tataki burdock.''

Herring child : Prosperity of descendants, health and longevity
Black beans ... so that you can work diligently. Black is the color that wards off evil spirits
Tazukuri ... Pray for a good harvest. (Sardines were used as fertilizer for plowing the fields, so it was said that the rice fields would have a good harvest.) Having the tail on the head is considered auspicious.
Tataki burdock ...Families and family businesses take root in the ground and prosper.


``Kuchitori'' means ``Kuchitori appetizer.'' Many of them have a gorgeous appearance and color and are sweet . It is served first at celebrations.

Kamaboko ...The red of red and white represents "joy" and "amulet", and the white represents "holiness" and "purity". A light taste that is perfect for taking a break from chopsticks.
Datemaki : academic achievement (because it is reminiscent of scrolls)
Chestnut Kinton : Increased financial luck. (Chestnuts represent the fruit of the mountains and are called ``Katsukuri'', a food that represents abundance.
Kelp rolls ...Eternal youth and longevity and prosperity of descendants ("joyokobu", "childhood")
Nishiki Tamago (Nishiki Tamago ): Increased financial luck.


A standard New Year's dish. There are many seafood ingredients.

Sea bream (sea bream) : A fish that brings good luck and good fortune (held by Lord Ebisu). It is used for celebrations.

Yellowtail (yellowtail) : A fish that is considered a ``fish for success'' and whose name changes as it grows. For those who wish to get promoted, it is good to eat it at the beginning of the year.
Shrimp (shrimp) : prayer for longevity (live long enough to bend your back)
Clam... Good match. (This is because there is only one type of shellfish that sticks together perfectly.)

"Vinegared food"

A standard New Year's dish.

Kohaku Namasu ... ``like spreading roots'' (reminiscent of the celebratory mizuhiki).
Vinegar lotus (Vinegar lotus) : A bright future (because you can see through holes.)
Chrysanthemum turnip ...Prosperity, health. (Chrysanthemum flowers used for celebrations)

"Boiled food"

Chikuzenni : It represents a family living in harmony.
Rein Konnyaku : Good match and marital harmony
Kuwai ... ``I want to sprout (happy)'' from the protruding bud. Successful career. longevity
Taro ...Prosperity of descendants. Family is harmonious.
Bamboo shoots ... are successful in their careers. Increase your luck.

How to pack osechi jubako

Osechi's jubako has the meaning of ``accumulating felicity'' .
In recent years, the most commonly used jubako boxes are 3-dan-ju, but officially they are basically 4-dan-ju. In some regions and households, there are five tiers.
Starting from the top, O-ju is ``1-no-ju,'' ``2-no-ju,'' ``3-no-ju,'' and ``yo-no-ju.'' (The kanji ``yo'' is used for 4 to avoid the image of death.) ``Five.'' The weight of
When packing osechi ryori into jubako boxes, the food to be packed into each box is determined, and it is said that it is good luck to pack odd-numbered types of food into each box, such as 5, 7, or 9. Odd numbers are also called lucky numbers because they are auspicious.

How to pack a five-tiered bag

How to pack Yodanju

How to pack a three-tiered bag

In recent years, not only can you make it at home, but you can also order it easily and have a wide variety of choices, making it easier to decorate your New Year's table. Family tastes and trends have been incorporated, and osechi dishes have changed in a variety of ways, including Western-style osechi and Chinese osechi. Although they each have their own characteristics, the culture of ``Osechi'' remains intact, while valuing the wisdom and customs of our ancestors. We would like you to enjoy Japanese food culture to the fullest as well as living a New Year's life that suits the times.

2. rice cake

They have been an agricultural people since ancient times.

Food for Japanese people on special occasions! Rice cake

In Japan, rice cultivation is at the root of cultural formation, and rice has been considered a sacred crop. The power of rice is condensed into the rice cake that is pounded and hardened, so it has long been believed that eating rice cake will give you strength.
Eating mochi on New Year's Day has the meaning of receiving the spirit of the Toshigami that resides there and giving us the spirit of the new year.
Originally, it is said that Kagami-mochi is the yorishiro of Toshigami.


Kagami-mochi got its name from its resemblance to the shape of an old mirror. It was believed that a god resided in a mirror, and kagami-mochi came to be displayed as an offering to the god of the year. The round shape symbolizes a happy family, and the stacked shapes symbolize a happy year.

After Matsunouchi (January 7th), we send off the Toshigami, eat kagami-mochi made from the blessings of nature (Toshigami is the god of abundance), share his spiritual power, and pray for good health throughout the year. . This act led to an event called ``Togatame,'' which means ``eating hard food, making your teeth strong, and praying for a long life.''

Cutting hard and dry kagami mochi with a knife is considered bad luck, as it is reminiscent of seppuku, so it is broken into small pieces with a wooden mallet. Since this rice cake was a gift for the god of the year, please handle it with care.


Eating zoni on New Year's Day has a long history, and is said to have started during the Heian period.
It is said that it began when rice cakes, taro, carrots, daikon radish, etc., which were offered to the god of the new year to pray for a good harvest, were boiled in ``wakamizu'' (wakamizu), which was drawn from a well or river at the beginning of the year, over the first fire of the new year, and eaten on New Year's Day. Masu. The origin of the word zoni is ``nimaze,'' which comes from simmering various ingredients.
Its original form is a round mochi, in which the soul of the god of the year dwells, but when the mochi is rolled by hand, air bubbles get trapped inside the mochi in cold regions, making it more likely to break.
Therefore, in the Kanto region, people started using noshi mochi, which uses pressure to force out the air bubbles. When you cut Noshi-mochi into pieces, it naturally becomes square-shaped, so in the Kanto region it is known as square-shaped mochi. In the Kansai region, round mochi has regional characteristics.
When making square mochi into ozoni, it is often baked. When baked, it expands and the corners can be removed. This made the shape closer to a circle, so it was thought that it had its original meaning.

I did that,

Introducing ``celebratory chopsticks'' that are important for eating food.

celebratory chopsticks

Celebration chopsticks are chopsticks made of plain wood such as willow with thinly shaved sides, and are used for celebratory meals such as New Year's and weddings.

How to use celebratory chopsticks

The reason why celebratory chopsticks are thin on both sides is based on the idea that one side is used by oneself and the other side is used by the gods, so that they can eat together. Since it is a celebratory meal on a sunny day, it is also eaten by the gods.

When using it for New Year's, it is offered to the Shinto altar on New Year's Eve and used during the Matsunouchi room. (Wash and dry the used celebratory chopsticks, then return them to the chopstick bag and continue using them.)
Since these are celebratory chopsticks that are good luck charms, you can bring the used celebratory chopsticks to events such as ``Dondo-yaki'' and ``Tondo'' where New Year's decorations and writings are burned on the Small New Year's Day on January 15th. would be better.


In addition to New Year's osechi and ozoni, event foods are influenced by the local climate and customs of the area, and are full of culture based on the local seasons.

While enjoying the events, please enjoy the rich food culture unique to Japan during seasonal milestones and celebrations.

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