Many people are surprised to discover that Christmas Day is not a holiday - and that to most people in Japan it is just another day. A business day, a work day, a school day.
New Year is the big event - with family get-togethers, symbolic and festive food, drinking parties, exchanging greeting cards and present-giving.
The dishes are the Japanese equivalent of mince pies, Christmas pudding and stuffing - warming winter food made from traditional preserved ingredients. Not raisins and candied peel in Japan though, herring roe, konbu seawed and black beans ... an acquired taste for many (foreigners).
- Soba noodles on News Year Eve symbolise long life.
- Preserved chestnut or sweet potato is yellow like gold
- Herring eggs are for fertility and lots of children
- Small dried fishes are for a good harvest
- Anything red is lucky
- The grilled snapper fish is a play on words 'Omedetai' - congratulations!