Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Belated New Year's Greeting from Obachan

New Year’s Day. Time for celebration. Time for renewal. Time for thousands of wishes...

New Year's Card from Obachan
The handwritten Japanese says "A Happy New Year"
(Papercraft by DAISO 100-yen shop)

Long time ago, our ancestors developed so many ways to wish good luck for the new year when what they had was scarce, and we have been passing them down for hundreds of years. As a middle-aged woman, I see it more as a cultural wisdom rather than a blind obedience to unscientific nonsense.

My belief is that it is a blessing to have something you can actually see or do to work out your emotions (wishes, prayers, etc.) and traditional customs give the elderly something to pass down to the youth and make them feel being part of a big continuum. That is why I appreciate our traditions … only if they are not too rigid and complicated to make us their slaves. :P

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Bowls of zoni soup waiting for New Year's ceremony
at my parent's house

On January 1, 2007, we (my parents, my younger sister, her husband and kids and me) performed New Year’s ceremony in the morning at my parents' house, as we do every year. See my previous post for the details of the ceremony. (There you can see what kind of zoni soup is in these bowls.) And I tell you what: this year dad forgot to use taro for the ornament we used in the ceremony.

Ornament(?) used in the New Year's ceremony

Otoso (sake dedicated to god)

As I wrote before, I don’t believe in being a slave of a tradition, but regarding the New Year’s feast, I guess we were, again this time. Or it was more like mom was still haunted by the memories of having to make a big feast when she was younger… when our grandparents and mom’s relatives had the New Year’s feast together at my parents’ house. Every year in the past ten or so years, mom, my sister and I said, “Let’s make only 70% of this next year!” at the table. Well, let’s have our fingers crossed for the year 2008… ;P

Here’s some photos from our New Year’s feast this year.

If interested, see these sites for explanations on the symbolic meanings of the food and my previous post for the reason why our family makes this kind of unorthodox osechi. I know... in our 2007 version of osechi, basically there was not much change from what we had last year and the year before. Oh, but let me add this for the sake of my niece: you see the rolled sushi in these boxes? She made them for the first time. Well, of course my mom cooked the rice and I made the egg/cucumber strips in the center, but my eleven-year old niece rolled the sushi. Usually when a beginner rolls sushi, it either turns out with too much rice squeezed in or turns out too loose to fall apart when sliced. But hers was almost perfect and we were all surprised.

On new year's eve, we packed three sets of three-tiered jubako boxes. The two above were my work.The rest was packed by mom, my niece and nephew while my younger sis prepared toshikoshi-soba (not instant noodles, of course!) for the whole family.

Osechi on the table ( Jan. 1st, 2007)

Simmered Food

Sashimi (sliced raw fish)

Definitely too many jubako boxes... :(

Yes, having New Year's feast at my parents' house means so much to me. But to tell you the truth, I’m so tempted to make my own version of osechi now. The osechi at my parents’ is geared more for kids, and now I really want to try out something different -- more orthodox and less brightly-decorated one, OR some westernized osechi ideas featured in magazines for young housewives. So you MIGHT see a post about "belated osechi -obachan’s version -" this weekend, if I still feel like it then.



Anonymous said...

Happy new year Obachan!

ChroniclesofChaos said...

Hajimemashite Obachan!

Happy New Year!
(Sorry, my nihongo classes have not taught me how to greet in the New Year as yet)

I can't help but read with great envy on the traditions, the multitudes of glorious intricate food and togetherness the preparation brings.

Perhaps this is also why I am starting to get more and more interested in the Japanese Culture.

Anyways... wanted to wish you the very best that 2007 has to offer and to thank you for sharing these traditions with me!

Anonymous said...

あけましておめでとうございます。I was so happy I could read that on your card!! Only because I know what it said in advance - if I tried to work that out I would have no chance - what beautiful penmanship you have!! I find that style so intriguing, yet so impossibly difficult for me to work out!
Looks like you had a great feast there - I had my own little osechi this year by myself - prepared by my Osaka Obachan at the local yakitori-ya. I will post about it soon. Anyway - EVERYTHING looks amazing in your photos! I see your whole family is as talented as you are in presenting food. Maybe that is just something I will never learn. I don't pay enough attention! OK - too long a comment - Happy New Year Obachan, and I hope that this year we continue to see so much of your wonderful cooking. I certainly learn a lot from you.

hiro said...

Hajimemashite! I am also an obachan in Saitama. One big different is that I am not good at cooking at all. =_=
I have visited this site once in a while to enjoy my eyes. :)
Thank you for these gochiso!!

moorl said...

obachan, that's SOME pen(wo)manship! really cool. let's have a fab year together, peace to all!

Anonymous said...

Have a great year, Obachan!

Anonymous said...

A belated merry new year to you, Obachan. I like the jubako boxes, they look really pretty! If I had to eat those food, I think I may have to fast the next day :-)

Anonymous said...


Want! Want!

- Chubbypanda

Anonymous said...

what a pretty feast! happy new year!!

Unknown said...

WOW, what beautiful boxes and food presentation! I think that this is a lovely feast tradition. Happy New Year Obachan!

Anonymous said...

owh~ looks delicious!!!
I wish I'm staying in Japan now...
I've always love the Japanese culture and food, though I like my own culture too. Happy year 2007 to you! Haha... I'm looking forward to my own Chinese new year!

Anonymous said...

What a great spread, Obachan! I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your great food this year.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

obachan said...

Happy New Year plume! Hope you keep coming back in 2007. :)

Happy New Year. (It’s “Akemashite Omedeto” in Japanese.)
Your name sounds familiar so I don’t think this is your first time commenting here.
Tradition-induced togetherness is certainly wonderful, but for me about a week is enough. ;)

I knew you would read it. But please don’t mention my penmanship. There seem to be some rules about how to connect characters in formal Japanese calligraphy, but I have never learned the proper way. This is fake. :P
Anyway, I wish you a happy 2007 and hope to be able to visit Osaka sometime (and see you there, maybe??)

Hajimemashite. Thanks for leaving a comment.
I wish you and yours the very best for 2007.

Haha. Maybe more politically-correct word is penpersonship??? Anyway, like I wrote to Lucas, my penmanship is fake, so please don’t flatter me.
Yeah, we’ll have a great year! ;)

k & s
Thank you. Same to you. And as I wrote above, I’m thinking about visiting Osaka sometime this year. Maybe we could see each other?

I wish you a happy new year!
You’re right. I should have fasted on Jan. 2nd, but instead, we kept eating and eating and eating… :O

I wish I could invite my dear readers to our New Year’s feast, considering the terrible amount of leftovers we have every year…

Thanks. Happy New Year to you.

Yeah, lovely tradition in a way, and a torture in another way… LOL.
I wish you a wonderful year.

I wish you could come and help us eat the osechi.
Your Chinese new year tradition is so gorgeous and I’m looking forward to enjoying numerous posts about the celebration (esp. food!!)

Thank you. Actually your new year’s post in 2005 inspired me to post a new year’s card like this, though mine is not as artistic as yours. :)
Have a wonderful year of the wild boar.