The Meaning of Toshikoshi Soba Noodles on New Year’s Eve
Last night, I enjoyed soba with my family, as we Japanese have a tradition of eating buckwheat noodles on New Year’s Eve.
The soba eaten as a New Year’s Eve late-night meal is called “Toshikoshi Soba (年越しそば: year-crossing soba)” whose origin dates back to the Edo period (Edo: 1603 to 1868).
According to the survey conducted in 2013 by Research Bank, about 69 percent of 1200 males and females between 10s and 60s answered that they eat Toshikoshi Soba late at night on December 31st.
However, why do Japanese people have Toshikoshi Soba noodles on New Year’s Eve?
Why Japanese Eat Toshikoshi Soba on New Year’s Eve
Based on this article on Japanese Wikipedia, there are several theories why Japanese people eat Toshikoshi Soba on New Year’s Eve, which include the following.
- Since soba is thin and long, Japanese wish for a long and healthy life, eating the noodles on New Year’s Eve.
- Buckwheat is strong against rain and wind. Besides, the plant grows even in the wasteland. Hence, people wish for a strong healthy body, eating soba on New Year’s Eve.
- Soba cuts easily compared to other Japanese noodles, such as udon and ramen. So people have the noodles on New Year’s Eve as a charm against accidents.
To put it in a nutshell, Japanese people eat soba noodles late at night on December 31st to bring next year’s good luck at the same time keeping off bad luck.
How Japanese Prepare Soba for New Year’s Eve
For Toshikoshi Soba, some people prepare instant soba noodles. Others make the dish from scratch with bundles of dried soba noodles available at supermarkets and soba restaurants.