In Japan New Year's is a bigger holiday than Christmas. They send New Year's cards like this on the left.
Bamboo = lucky.
Some rice cakes stacked one on top of the other and then a tangerine or clementine on top = lucky
Cat waving one paw = lucky
Also some traditional food to eat. This is called "Osechi ryori" each food has a special meaning.
at Midnight must eat noodles for long life. Other examples include:
Kamaboko - a red and white fish paste. The colors represent the Japanese Rising Sun and have a celebratory meaning.
Konbu - a seaweed and the characters mean 'joy'
Kuromame - a black soy bean. 'mame' means health
Tai - a red fish. Tai means 'celebrate'
Tazukuri - dried sardines in soy sauce. Means 'abundant harvest'.
There are tons more things to eat/cook. Most people these days buy these pre-made boxes of stuff. They sell them here locally and range anywhere from $35 (basic) to $300 for the more elaborate.
My brother-in-law is making mochi soup for my sister and myself since we're such slackers. He learned to make the soup from watching videos on you tube.
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