Why is it called Osechi (おせち)?
Happy New Year, Everyone! 2023 has finally come!
As almost every Japanese household does, this year too, my family had Ozoni and Osechi Ryori (おせち料理) at breakfast on New Year’s Day/元日 and today/January 2nd in a row.
As you may know, Ozoni (お雑煮) is a traditional Japanese winter mochi soup dish simmered with miscellaneous ingredients/雑多な材料と煮られる that differ depending on the region and home.
But I couldn’t surmise why Osechi Ryori or Osechi (おせち: a traditional New Year’s assortment of food) is called so from its name.
So after enjoying the selection of foods, I couldn’t help looking it up, and as a result, I could learn about the origin/meaning of Osechi.
Why is it called so?
Based on the article 御節料理 on Japanese Wikipedia, Osechi Ryori is originally a dish/料理 served at a turning point/節目 of the season.
The origin dates back as far as the Yayoi period (弥生時代: the 10th century B.C to the middle of the third century A.D.) when people began to place food offerings, thanking the gods for the harvest.
In the Heian period (平安時代: 794 – 1185), the Imperial Court would hold rituals called Go-Sechie/五節会 (transmitted from China) at five turning points of the season, offering dishes called Osechiku (御節供) to the gods.
Later, Osechiku came to refer to the dish as the most important of the five, Oshogatsu (お正月: Japanese New Year), and be called Osechi.