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.
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.
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?