Imported traditions

ozoni

Did I already mention that Kai can stand? Well, he can, among the many other things he seems to be picking up (literally and otherally) on a daily basis.

Before the New Year, we also received Naomi’s updated copy of her family register from Tokyo, which now includes Kai and myself (my name being recorded in Katakana because I’m the alien in the family). Kai also retains his mother’s surname in his birth records for Singapore and Japan.

Because we were officially 2/3rds Japanese, we decided on ozoni for the first meal of the year. It sounds simple enough to make, but we wanted to see if there were any variations on the dish, so we Youtubed it, and found this channel with an alarming title, called, “Cooking With Dog“, but our fears were unfounded because the dog just sits there doing nothing, and nothing gets done to it either.

We followed the instructions for ozoni, and I’m not allowed to make fun of Japanese-accented Engrish, so please, don’t laugh. (You can go an use the rubbertree if you need to pee).

But what’s really interesting was the fact that Japanese New Year follows the Gregorian calendar instead of the Oriental lunar calendar, and I found out, thanks to Wikipedia, that this was not always the case.

The Japanese celebrated their New Year’s the same time as the Chinese until the Meiji period, when Japan underwent a series of sweeping changes aimed at transforming her into a modern society (partly by abolishing the elite class).

So one of the things you eat at New Year’s is mochi – or sticky rice cakes, which are toasted before being boiled to a sticky mess in the ozoni. Wikipedia also has something to say about this:

Because of mochi’s extremely sticky texture, there is usually a small number of choking deaths around New Year in Japan, particularly amongst the elderly. The death toll is reported in newspapers in the days after New Year.

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