Last year I complained about the icky mochi soup we eat on New Year’s Day as the first meal of the year called Ozoni. The stickiness of the mochi symbolizes the way a family will stick together through the year. And the flavorlessness of the soup is due to the fact that it’s pretty healthy for you and you should start your year off healthy.
This year and most of the years we have a three tiered box (jubako) filled with New Year’s food called Osechi-Ryori. All the foods inside have symbolism for the year. Let’s be real here there are very few foods I like in this, but since I was going to work out shortly after I didn’t eat much anyway. So there was the kamaboko, the white and pink fish cake that represents the rising sun of Japan and has celebratory connotation. Tazukuri or sardines, usually dried, which symbolize a bountiful harvest. Lots of beans which usually symbolize health. Fruits like grapes and oranges which usually bring prosperity or the wish of having numerous children. Eggs, which I don’t eat, they’re usually rolled up to look like a sun, so take a wild guess. It also includes foods like Gobo (burdock root), Kazunoko (herring roe), shrimp, seaweed, and such.
The Osechi usually has food for several days at a time. I’m sure there’s a systematic way of eating it but basically the way we do it is that my entire family goes to my grandma’s for breakfast. We eat a store bought Osechi but she makes us her own ozoni. She always tries to explain to us what’s the importance of everything, but we’ve heard it so often we know it by heart. We show up because there is importance to us coming together and eating as a family and eating something special as well.