Osechi-ryori is packed full of Japanese history and culture. Osechi-ryori was originally a dish offered to the gods during the five festivals in the Heian period (AD794-1192). However, as the New Year is the first festival, Osechi-ryori has been considered a special dish for the New Year since the Edo period (AD1603-1867). As well as food offered to the gods, it is also a dish of the fruits of the mountain and seas filled with prayers for a bountiful harvest, fertility, and the health and safety of family.
The five festivals refer to “Gantan (New Year’s day)” on January 1, “Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival)” on March 3, “Tango no sekku (Boy’s Day)” on May 5, “Tanabata (the Star Festival)” on July 7, and “Choyo (Chrysanthemum Festival)” on September 9. The Japanese regard these days as the turning points of the season and celebrate each new season by eating special food.
The content of Osechi-ryori differs in each region. For example, Osechi-ryori is packed with happiness in special multi-tiered lacquer boxes called “jubako“, however these boxes may be four-tiered or five-tiered depending on the region. Three-tiered boxes have also become increasingly common in recent years with the increase in smaller families. The food contained in each tier is different and each tier expresses prayers with specific significance. Wouldn’t it be fun to eat and compare the various Osechi-ryori of different regions?