New Years is a big event in Japan. It’s like how American people celebrate Thanksgiving, so Japanese people spend the day (and the day before) with family members and have a huge feast.
My family has a diverse background and celebrates new years in Korean and Japanese ways. Other than the introduction to new years and all the bowing we do, we have delicious food prepared from the day before to celebrate this big day. Every year, I help out make the egg-pancake related dishes, my mom cooks steak, and my aunts and grandma do the rest! I must say my grandma does the best job cooking and teaching us how to make these traditional dishes to pass on its authenticity.
New years is really a full day of non-stop eating. Starting from breakfast on my dad’s side of the family, we eat brunch forever, then we drive over to my mom’s family and eat around 3:30, then we head back to my dad’s side again to see more aunts and cousins where we eat again. Days after new years are bad because my stomach expects food in quantity and also in short period of time, and caloric intake goes way beyond what it’s supposed to be. But eating a lot on new years prepares one for a healthy year, so it’s good in the longrun after all (that’s how I at least justify my eating).
Osechi is Japanese new years food that has many components. Each mini dishes prepared, usually in a box like bento box, has special symbolic meanings. For example, datemaki is a sweet eggroll that wishes sunny and bright future; kurikinton is golden chestnut and chestnut paste that symbolizes wealth; kazunoko (pictured on the right bottom of the osechi box picture) is herring roe that signifies wish for many children, to give some examples. I try to eat as many things as possible in the box because I know that each of them have good applications to life but often fails to eat them all because of the full stomach I get from eating many other dishes on this day.
My Korean grandma prepares delicious fatty pork and colorful shrimp with ginger and scallion, cooked with Korea’s oil, sesame oil. I’ve been eating this food since I was a baby so these are something I always look forward to eating every time I visit her house.
My other grandma always prepares colorful dish full of root vegetables, chicken, and beans. It’s so pretty to look at and the soy sauce flavoring gives a calming taste. She also makes her own black beans, that has a meaning of good health, and also rolls her own eggs. She also prepared for us fishcakes and eggs (my favorites!), sashimi shrimp and huge boiled crab, and roast beef.
I ate so much. I’m sure I’ll have a good healthy year 🙂