The Meaning of New Year’s Otoshidama Money
Happy New Year! “Oshogatsu (お正月)” has come here in Japan!
Speaking of Oshogatsu, have you ever heard that in Japan there is a traditional custom of giving children a new year’s gift of money during the first 7 days of the year?
As you may already know, the tradition is called “Otoshidama (お年玉)” where adults give their children and relatives’ kids a special allowance in special envelopes.
However, why do Japanese adults give children the new year’s gift of money during the period Oshogatsu?
The Meaning of Otoshidama
In ancient times in Japan, it was widely believed that gods exist and come to people’s homes on New Year’s Day. Hence, people at the time decorated their homes and prepared offerings for welcoming the gods.
In return for that, the gods gave the head of the house a new spirit, thanks to which, it was considered he can have a healthy life throughout the year.
As this indicates, Otoshidama originally meant the gift of a new spirit from gods to the owner of a house, so it was an invisible thing, from which children weren’t able to benefit.
Taking that into consideration, the head of a house replaced the invisible gift with money in order to share the gods’ blessing with his children, and this is the beginning of the modern Otoshidama.
(Reference Page: Gakken Kidsnet )