Osechi Ryori is food specifically made for New Year’s Day. Osechi is prepared over a couple days and before New Year’s. Osechi is placed in boxes called juubako which are like bento boxes. Most foods in the juubako have a very strong flavor and cooked thoroughly, dried, or soaked in vinegar so the food will last longer. Each food also has a meaning to it:
Datemaki – a sweet, rolled-up, egg/fish paste omelet； date means glamorous or glitzy. Since it looks like a scroll, it is said that your knowledge will grow.
Kazunoko – herring roe； the number of eggs signify fertility.
Kamaboko – broiled fish paste； the kamaboko is in red and white, which symbolizes celebration.
Kuromame – sweet, black beans； the black (kuro) is supposed to ward off evil and mame is to work hard and for good health.
Kurikinton – sweet paste made out of chestnut and red bean. It symbolizes wealth and money because of its golden yellow color.
Konbumaki – fish rolled up in kelp； a play on words, which sounds like ”yorokobu” or happiness.
Tai – red sea-bream； also a play on words, you can find ”tai” also in ”medetai” which means celebratory.
Shrimp – the long whiskers and its curved back symbolizes a long life.
Osechi Ryori is even sold in convenience stores nowadays. Why don’t you try it this coming New Year?