Noodles On The Last Day Of The Year!
Today, on December 31, called O-misoka (the very final day), we have a tradition to eat Soba, thin noodles made from buckwheat, which is specially called ‘Toshi-koshi-soba’ (year-crossing noodles).
My grandmother used to tell me the reason why we should eat Soba was to pray for your life would be like the shape of Soba. Thin and Long.
I used to tell her, “Nooooo! I want my life thick and long! So I want to eat Udon (thicker than Soba) rather than Soba!!”
Of course she scolded this greedy and naughty child…
Yes, the traditional concept of happy life for Japanese is frugal but long.
I would really like to eat maccheroni (short pasta) or bucatini (long and thick pasta with a hole running through the centre) on O-misoka just to see my grandmother’s reaction…
the true reason why eating soba on the last day of the year has become a tradition seems to have been more realistic.
In Edo period, quite all the commercial deals including shopping were made on account, not by cash. The debit should have been cleared at the end of each month. If not cleared the due day was shifted to the end of the next month, and if not, shifted to the next next month … and the year end was the final moment of the collection. If the debit was not cleared within the year, the debit was disappeared. That was the traditional way of business in Japan!
Therefore, for those who wanted to wipe all of debts away O-misoka was not the appropriate time for sitting and having a relaxed moment but running away from collectors. That’s why their choice was Soba, Japanese traditional fast food, to feed themselves easily and quickly!
We may not know the true reasons behind the culture and traditions because the history we know was written by people. However, it is very interesting to know why and how by reading many documents or literature by seeing works of art.
We sometimes are obsessed by traditions. But if we know possible reasons behind traditions we will be able to become more familiar with.
I personally think that the prejudice and antipathy are aroused by ignorance. In other culture there will be many things you might feel ‘weird’, but some knowledge on ‘why’ will help you to understand it and accept it.
I will go on writing interesting stories behind Japanese culture and traditions wishing more people around the world could be more familiar with Japan in this Saionji Net. and 2 Hours Drive From Tokyo.
And for now I wish from the bottom of my heart that all the readers, no matter where you are, may have
A very happy New Year!!
Selamat tahun baru
Manigong Bagong Taon
Frohes Neues Jahr
Felice anno nuovo
새해 복 많이 받으세요
Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku
Feliz Ano Novo
Feliz Año Nuevo
Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun
Gott Nytt år
Hyvää Uutta Vuotta!
Selamat Tahun Baru
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On the 3rd March, we, the Japanese, traditionally