Christmas is over, and now comes New Year…

27 Dec
osechi I remember it was 1st of November when every shop started playing Christmas songs to urge Christmas shopping or only to create joyful atmosphere. That lasted until 25th of December, and what happens from the very next morning in Japan? Everyone starts to prepare for New Year Day and super market is such a good example that changes its decoration or foods so much: from Western foods, sparkling wine, and desserts to special foods that are to make Japanese new year cuisine, called “Osechi ryori“. This website lists Osechi recipe: how to fix each of Osechi food in Japanese. Even if you can’t read it, you can guess how hard it’d be to make so many different things at a time. (Actually today many of them are pre-fixed and sold at super market, though…)

As for myself, I don’t like “Osechi ryori” very much since my chidhood. However, unlike old days, most of stores open except for 1st of January in Tokyo, which practically means there’s no need to pre-fix Osechi ryori for the whole family to keep eating it until 3rd of January. What do I mean?

As mentioned in my old post, in Japan New Year is much more meaningful than Christmas, and so most of companies let their employees have about 1-week of holiday from end of December to at least to 3rd of January. Housewives usually prepare Osechi ryori by New Year eve (Dec. 31) so they can rest 3 days of new year without cooking much. But that’s an old story and not true any more today, because super markets open from 2nd of January, so as some restaurants, which is unlike old days when almost all stores closed around 5th or 6th of January…

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Having said that, it’s our tradition to eat Osechi ryori. Nowadays as we have less kids, and there are many ways to outsource Osechi instead of cooking it by ourselves, there are many people who reserve Osechi somewhere, at online shop for example. As for myself, I never cooked Osechi by myself nor ordered it somewhere else. I just visit my husband’s parents and eat it there. :p Osechi looks very beautiful and each food has a meaning such as longevity, prosperity, victory, luck or happiness…thus we still like to eat it even though the situation has totally changed today.

It’s not only Osechi that we should think about. As you have exchaned Christmas cards, we exchange new year’s cards called “Nengajo”. Before email was available, I spent quite a lot of time making my original cards every year. But lately I have noticed, I don’t have to exchange them with close friends because I see them very often. They say there’s no need to follow old tradition and keep formal between us. Those who send me new year’s cards are the ones I don’t see often. In other words, it’s not too much to say that they are sort of friends who are connected with only 1 card in 365 days. As is often the case, the card is made from a photo of their KIDS only, not themselves, saying “My girl has turned 3 years old, she now can do this and that, she is blar, blar, blar…” and NO INFORMATION about themselves! To me, this just looks like they are reporting me on the details of their kids every year. Well…good to hear that, but I’d be much more interested in what THEY are doing, not what THEIR KIDS are doing…This really makes me feel uncomfortable and I do wonder if they have ever thought of the feelings of the people who cannot have kids even if they want to. Hence I stopped writing new year’s cards a couple of years ago, and only reply to those who sent me cards. I’d like to suggest that we should meet and chat instead of exchanging cards only one time a year and continue that superficial relationship. (I’m not talking about Christmas cards that I exchange with people outside Japan. They are close friends but I cannot see them often because of distance.)

Osechi or new year’s cards, whatever it is around new year is not really my taste. I at least visit my husband’s parents for new year’s greeting, first shrine visit to pray for wellness in the new year, and reply to those who send me their kids photo cards, I mean Nengajo. :p I’m a lazy Japanese who is not faithful to its tradition and culture, and is more likely to be crezy for New Year Sale from the 2nd of January!! (LOL)

osechi

*Disclaimer: The photo is quoted from this page of KIRIN beer.

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4 Responses to “Christmas is over, and now comes New Year…”

  1. Sparklewolfie December 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    That looks like a lot of dishes!! For Chinese New Year we have a lot of dishes with meanings too. My mom still cooks it by herself, but of course many are also available in supermarkets now

    I will be so glad that the Christmas music is gone now… =_=

    • kirin December 27, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

      Ah you think the same way as I do. I was actually bored of the state "only Christmas music everywhere" for about 2 months! XD

  2. Lisa December 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    Happy New Year and best wishes for 2010!
    I like the idea of New Years cards – it can be sent to anyone, regardless of whether they celebrate Christmas or another holiday. ^^ Thank you as always for brightening my week with interesting articles! 🙂

    • kirin December 28, 2009 at 12:00 am #

      That's true. As not many of us have religion, everyone casually say "Merry Christmas" in Japan. We don't care if others celebrate it or not in Japan. That's why this really makes a big trouble once we stay abroad. Without malice at all, we may not be cautious enough to select who to send Christmas cards and who we should not address "Merry Christmas". This is rather stressful and is a very sensitive issue, and so I keep saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". I don't care whatever myself, you know I am one of the Japanese with no specific religion.

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