Japanese American Traditions

Winter Celebrations

As the winter months approach, the sights, sounds, and smells of the season warm the soul, and we prepare for customary holiday traditions. For many Japanese Americans, the holidays are defined by embracing the traditions of each homeland, which are celebrated in different, yet distinct ways.

With less than one percent of Japan’s population practicing Christianity, December 25 is not a national holiday, but more of a commercial event. In Japan, the New Year’s holiday is more significant, as it is customary to give year-end gifts, called “oseibo,” to friends and colleagues to express gratitude for kindness. Traditional Japanese foods are prepared and shared with family and friends at the end of the year.

For many Japanese Americans, these same traditions ring true. Christmas celebrations include the exchange of year-end gifts with loved ones, while the customary tradition of “Oshogatsu” (New Year’s Day) is celebrated with a gathering of family and friends. Traditional and non-traditional “Japanese” foods such as sushi rolls, sashimi, won ton, tempura, kuro-mame (black beans), hot soba (buckwheat noodles), and potato salad, among others, are prepared and enjoyed throughout the day.

Whether you’re shopping for the holidays, or looking for some traditional “Japanese” or “Japanese American” recipes for your “Oshogatsu,” we’ve put together a selection of items to assist you.

December 2002








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