How the Japanese new year begins!

culture events food

We are at the beginning of the new year and want to take a look at the culinary New Year traditions in Japan. As you probably know, it is common in Japan to chase away spirits through various customs and symbols. But food also plays an important role in welcoming a new year. Did you know, for example, that long noodles symbolise a long life?

A year comes to an end - 31 December

Before the year ends, it is customary in Japan to have a meal with colleagues or friends in December. The old year is said goodbye and old burdens should not be taken into the new year. On the last day of the year, people clean their homes extensively, banish ghosts and get rid of old burdens. Afterwards, people get together with their families and eat long soba noodles. They stand for a long, happy life and must not be bitten off, but end up in the mouth as a whole.

Into the New Year - 1 January

The New Year is a very important traditional holiday in Japan. Classically, people eat miso soup, rice cakes (mochi) and vegetables, but also jellied fish paste, kobumaki (food rolled up in kombu), sweet potatoes and black soybeans. There are often many small dishes. For some years now, dishes such as sushi, deep-fried chicken or pizza have also become popular on New Year's Day. At the beginning of the year, sweet mochi made of rice dough are eaten all over the country and used as decoration. Mochi and mandarins or bitter oranges (daidai) are said to bring good luck, which is why these foods are found in all Japanese homes. The custom dates back to the Edo period (from the 17th century), when wealthy families distributed these foods to others. Daidai also means "generations". Thus, the fruit stands for longevity and family.


 Other New Year customs

Much importance is attached to the first visit to the temple in Japan, often shortly after midnight and dressed in a ceremonial kimono. A new year is started with 108 chimes. They stand for human desires that need to be overcome. So on New Year's Day, instead of setting off fireworks, people visit a shrine, give presents to children in the family and receive many postal New Year's greetings. The New Year is celebrated until at least 3 January. Depending on the region and family, there are special customs for the first days of January. In any case, it is always delicious.

MYCONBINI tip: If you haven't toasted the New Year enough, we recommend the fruity-mild sake from Ishikawa.

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