New Year’s Customs

The biggest holiday of the year is New Year in Japan. It outranks Christmas by a lot. People prepare for the New Year by cleaning their houses and preparing Osechi. The holiday last from the first of January to the third.

Japanese want to start the New Year right so that means get the house in order. Not a light cleaning for guests but a thorough cleaning. Some people I have heard change their light bulbs at this time of year.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=682235

The traditional New Year’s meal is Osechi. As you can see by the picture it is beautiful. There is a wide variety of dishes and it is served cold.  For the New Year’s meal it is put into trays. Later the trays are stacked on top of one another. The top tray is has a lid. Depending on the size of the families it the number and size of the trays differ.

 

As I wrote it is served cold so the only thing that is hot is tea and Ozoni. What is Ozoni? No, it is not a San Francisco treat. It is a type of soup with lumps of rice in it. The cooked sticky rice is smushed together to make a patty. This patty gets put in the soup. Sometimes it is one lump sometimes it is two lumps. This soup must be eaten carefully because you may choke on it. People have died.

 

 

By yoppy – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2778924
By SjschenOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

My first New Year’s meal was around a kotatsu.  This is a low table with a electric heater in the middle and a blanket (blue in the picture) to keep the heat in. In the old days they used charcoal for the heat. We ate the meal and watched special New Year’s day TV programs. Also we would eat mikan. Mikan are easy to peal oranges.

It used to be that was about all you did on New’s Years day besides visit a shrine. I live near a shrine so I see a lot of people pass my house to go to it every New Year’s. They even close off the street and restrict parking.  Now there are a lot of businesses open during the holidays.

How about you?  What are your New Year’s customs?

 

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “New Year’s Customs”

  1. As I conducted business all over Japan, the time of year that I never really understood, and the time when business activities were minimal, was Golden Week.  Guess I need a primer.

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  2. Those trays of food look beautiful – Asian food is always so charmingly designed, simple and colorful.

    When our kids were younger we would usually all go see a movie in the evening, partly to use up some time so midnight wasn’t so long a wait. We’d watch the ball drop in Times Square on tv and cheer and have cheese & crackers, then bundle them off to bed. Now that the kids are older they all have parties to go to. My husband & I plan to see Darkest Hour tomorrow night, then go home to have some Bailey’s, raising a toast that no Clinton is in the White House.

    The house-cleaning for us will definitely start after New Year’s – various combinations of our 3 kids and their friends/spouses/grandkids have been staying here thru the last 10 days, so a good scrubbing will be needed!

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  3. How about you?  What are your New Year’s customs?

    Herring and sour cream at midnight.  Back when I had the carbide cannon, I used to ring in the new year with a bang, but it’s in a store-all in the U.S., so that’s no longer part of the tradition.

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  4. Black-eyed peas for supper. Why? Beats me, the origins are lost in the mists of time — way back when my Okie-animist forebears were making human sacrifices to Smiley, the Catfish god and Prickly Bitch, goddess of okra harvests. Now, we just sacrifice a six-pack and watch OU go down to ignominious defeat in a New Year’s bowl game. 

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  5. On our best New Year’s Eve, candlelight supper began late and continued through the playing of the complete recording of Die Fledermaus. The kids were in their early teens and their beautiful auntie was house guest; we all remembered the great-grandmama and great-grandpapa who enjoyed it so much in Vienna before the war. Now the kids are all grown up and we are too sleepy to stay up late.

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  6. Being Scottish, the New Year is the most important festival in my calendar.

    When I was still living at home with my parents, the tradition was that nuclear families gathered to be together to bring in the New Year. My father was tall, dark, and handsome, so he always became our “first-footer”, carrying a lump of coal and a bottle of Scotch whisky. This was considered good luck.

    We drank Ginger Wine, made from essence by my mother. The taste of original Coca Cola always reminds me of Ginger Wine as it is so similar. With this, we ate a special fruit cake.

    Happy days!

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  7. Pencil, the appearance of food is important here. The meals are prepared and put on your plate instead of dishing things on the plate yourself. My mom who lived in Japan over ten years always said, “Japanese eat with their eyes.”

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  8. Black eyed peas is a Southern thing.  I was told long ago that they symbolized coins in your pocket throughout the new year.   I have the vague notion that it originally came from Africa.

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  9. My husband and I have had two New Year’s traditions:

    1. Age 23-39: Bling, over-priced meals in 4 star restaurants. My favorite memory was Maxim’s in Paris where every patron stared at us because we were obviously not part of the regular crowd. (I had a good French Connection at the time who helped get us a table.)

    2. Age 40+: Celebrate on December 30 and stay home on the 31st because, to quote the infamous Hugh Hefner, “New Year’s Eve is amateur night.”

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  10. Goodness, I forgot the most important tradition of all on New Year’s Day: the Rose Bowl! I was lucky enough to attend this hallowed event twice in my lifetime but unfortunately, watched my beloved Michigan Wolverines lose twice to the USC Trojans. ):

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