Japan’s traditional New Year’s food osechi ryori has a long history that began in the Heian era, as back in the day it was taboo to cook on the first 3 days of the year. Until today you can buy these beautifully packaged bento boxes in department stores and supermarkets all over the country around January 1st. Osechi ryori is very practical, as almost all stores and restaurants are closed in the first 3 days of the new year.
This tradition is not only practical, but it is also very symbolic. The box is full of various kinds of food, and each food stands for something. For example, the fish roe symbolizes fertility, the black soybeans symbolize health because the word for ‘bean’ is pronounced the same as the word for ‘health’ in Japanese, and the egg roulade stands for wealth because the white and yellow of the egg symbolize silver and gold.
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