Things to enjoy on New Year's Eve and the New Year

From New Year's Eve to New Year's, we welcome another year. Every year, we celebrate that time with our family, loved ones, people at work, or alone. There are still many customs that have continued since ancient times on such milestones. There are many things to do during the year-end and New Year holidays, and we feel like we have to do them anyway, but how many of us have a deep understanding of the roots and meaning of these customs?
This time, I would like to focus on the foods that can be enjoyed during the year-end and New Year holidays, and look at their origins and characteristics.

Before that, I was personally curious about the origin of the kanji for New Year's Eve, so I'd like to talk a little bit about it.
In the lunar calendar, the last day of each month is called "Misoka,'' and it seems that it used to be written as "30th'' and read "Misoka.'' Also, "晦'' is pronounced "Tsugomori'' and means that the moon is hidden and cannot be seen. In the lunar calendar, which is based on the waxing and waning of the moon, "Last Day'' referred to the end of the month. It seems that the last day of December, the last month of the year, has come to be called "New Year's Eve."

Starting with New Year's Eve, I get the impression that delicious food is served on the table during the New Year's holidays. There are often things that are roughly fixed, and they all have some kind of roots.

First of all, Toshikoshi Soba is a good luck charm for the end of the year.
Buckwheat seeds are associated with prayers for good health because they are highly nutritious and grow strong even in harsh climates. The shape of soba noodles is long and thin, and is a symbol of longevity. In addition, goldsmiths in the Edo period used to make buckwheat flour into dumplings and attach gold or silver powder to the dumplings in order to collect the gold that was scattered during the processing of gold. For this reason, soba is also considered a lucky charm that brings good luck with money.

Next, gotoso, which is said to have the power to ward off evil spirits for a year and even extend your lifespan.
It is made by finely chopping several types of herbal medicine called tososan and soaking it in sake or mirin before eating. It has been said for a long time that if you drink this on the third day, you will not get sick.
The word Toso itself has the meaning of removing evil spirits and reviving the body and mind.
When people gather on New Year's Day, there is a tradition of drinking water first, starting with the youngest, and there is a theory that this is because the elders drink the youthful energy of the younger children and gain energy.
Nowadays, toso base is sold online and seems to be easy to make.
New Year dishes called Osechi.
Originally, it came from the word osechiku, which means osechiku, and was an offering made to the gods in gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Later, it became a celebratory dish for seasonal festivals. Also, it seems that it was only after the war that it became as luxurious as it is today.
Each dish has a meaning, such as herring roe, which prays for the prosperity of descendants, and tiger prawns, which pray for longevity, and are often packed in jubako in odd numbers, which have been considered to bring good luck since ancient times.

Mochi is delicious, but you need to be careful not to get it stuck in your throat.
Rice is considered a sacred food given by the god of fertility. The rice cakes made from this rice are also sacred, and "Kagami-mochi'' are offered in alcoves or Shinto altars as yorishiro (things that divine spirits approach) to welcome Toshigami during the New Year.
The reason why it is called kagami-mochi is that the mochi is shaped into a round shape like the round mirrors placed in shrines and other places. There are various theories as to why kagami mochi is stacked in two tiers, but it also seems to have the meaning of growing old peacefully.

Personally, I feel that there are many customs that are unique to Japan that are only in name or form, and I have reflected on them a little. This time, we focused on the things we enjoy during the year-end and New Year holidays, but if you are aware of the background behind each of them, you will be able to appreciate them even more while enjoying them deliciously.
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