Osechi ryori is a Japanese New Year thing. Wikipedia gives a thorough explanation which will make any general statements about it redundant, except the fact it's cold, and fishy, and mostly not particularly tasty. Hiro's parents - who were born in the late 1930s used to have New Year food at Chinese New Year as children but aren't quite sure when the shift was made to the Western New Year. There are some parts that are national (though my guess is that like many "national" customs NHK and the eduction system help a lot with national synthesis), and other parts that are local. I don't think stingray is eaten in many places.
This year NY was toned down, though much less so than last year. Hiro's father's sister died so the "red things" - prawns, crab, red rice etc were scaled back.
Hiro bought crab for a nabe, but that didn't seem to be a problem. Sometimes the rules aren't very clear... One of Hiro's father's relatives (the matchmater that arranged their wedding) died on the 29th, the funeral was held the following day. The left overs are brought home in a doggy bag.
Hiro was remarking how unfashionable osechi has become... but that his mother likes to maintain the tradition. There is much scope to transform the tradition.
|Home made osechi|
|Supermarket osechi is not very different - except for the shell fish.|
|More osechi, though I wonder if this is local - I don't imagine|
most places have zenmai in their nimono.
|Funerals have a custom of "doggy bags" - what you don't eat, you can take home.|
It's quite likely this is a rural thing. This is the doggy bag
from the funeral of the matchmaker.
|Osechi with the doggy bag food made the dinner complete.|