In Japanese culture you will see many occasions using puns to be a good omen. Especially on New Year, the most important holiday of all in Japan, uses many puns in a hope for a better and healthy life for their family members by eating special meal called osechi.
Osechi is served in special boxes that are just like layered bento boxes and consumed through out the new year celebration. On the New Year, there is a belief that toshigami, the New Year God will visit your house and fire was considered holy and avoids using them as much as they could. Only exception is the mochi soup called ozouni, to be eaten with New Year god. Thus, Osechi is composed food that is meant to serve cold. However, since Osechi is enjoyed thorough out New Years, Osechi is prepared to last long. Among all ingredients that are used on osechi, kombu is one of most utilized product, including boiled kombu seaweed, to flavoring with dashi stock.
Osechi originally imported from china as a food for cerebration on 700AD. Then Osechi became meal to celebrate New Year. As I stated earlier, each ingredients used in osechi has special meaning hoping for better coming year. Those foods listed below.
Simmered kombu roll (kombu maki) – kombu symbolizes happiness as Japanse word for happiness is yorokobu associate with kombu. Kombu is used in osechi in many forms and dishes
Sweet mashed potato made with chestnuts (kuri-kinton) – associated with fortune as the color reminds gold. Chestnut can be grown in all regions and is used for good fortune.
Red and white fishkcake (kamaboko) – fish cake symbolizes sunrise and must have item for osechi. Sunrise has special meaning as it depicted on national flag. Moreover red symbolize happiness and white symbolizes holiness and purity.
Black beans (kuro-mame) – beans represents health and rugged and must have item for osechi
Herring roe – as herring reproduce thousands of eggs, it symbolizes fertility.
Shrimp – as they have long beard and curved back reminds of aged men and symbolizes longevity
Burdock – thin and long plant that roots in underground is thought to be the role model life and used in many osechi foods.
Lotus roots – hole in the lotus roots let you see through the future.
Osechi put meaning on the dish into important consideration and many of them consume lots of time and effort. lots of house wives spend new years eve, preparing for the new year to have a joyful New Year with the family and relatives