Osechi -traditional New Year dishes -

Happy new year 2008!!

How did you spend your new year's?

I guess some people found Japanese new year's is quiet.
Shops are closed, no traffic jam, not many people are on street.
It's just because new year's is more for families than friends. It's just like Christmas in the west, I think.
Family get together once a year, don't do too much and have relaxing time.

At this time of year, most
Japanese people enjoy traditional New Years Osechi dishes. Osechi includes a lot of food that can be kept for a long time and they are all prepared before NewYear's Day.

The dishes that make up osechi each have a special meaning celebrating the New Year.
Some examples are:

Datemaki (伊達巻 or 伊達巻き), sweet rolled omelette mixed with fish paste or mashed shrimp. They symbolize a wish for many auspicious days. On auspicious days (晴れの日, hare-no-hi), Japanese people traditionally wore fine clothing as a part of enjoying themselves. One of the meanings associated with the second kanji includes "fashionability," derived from the illustrious dress of the samurai from Date Han.

Kamaboko (蒲鉾), broiled fish paste. Traditionally, slices of red and white kamaboko are alternated in rows or arranged in a pattern. The color and shape are reminiscent of the rising sun, and have a celebratory, festive meaning.

Kazunoko (数の子), herring roe. Kazu means "number" and ko means "child". It symbolizes a wish to be gifted with numerous children in the New Year.

Konbu (昆布), a kind of seaweed. It is associated with the word yorokobu, meaning "joy".

Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soybeans. Mame also means "health," symbolizing a wish for health in the New Year.

Tai (鯛), red sea-bream. Tai is associated with the Japanese word medetai, symbolizing an auspicious event.

Tazukuri (田作り), dried sardines cooked in soy sauce. The literal meaning of the kanji in tazukuri is "rice paddy maker", as the fish were used historically to fertilize rice fields. The symbolism is of an abundant harvest.

It doesn't matter whether it's tasty or not (lol), when I eat it, I do feel like the new year has come!

If you are interested in, you can buy it at the department store ;-)


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