Otoso is sometimes translated as New Year’s sake, but it has a different meaning when written in Kanji characters. The last character is thought to be the name of a demon who was harassing the villagers, and the middle one means kill. The purpose of drinking Otoso is to ward off evil spirits around you and to help you live longer without getting sick. Otoso was a originally medicinal wine from China, and was a New Year’s ritual among the aristocrats of the Heian period. It was not until the Edo period that the custom of drinking Otoso became common among the common people. When drinking Otso, the family would share the same special three cups of wine. Generally, the youngest drink first, and then the oldest drink to absorb the vitality of the young. Oshidama is a traditional Japanese event that children look forward to every year. Children receive small envelopes filled with cash from their parents, grandparents, or other close relatives. The average amount of money per envelope increases as the child grows. This tradition began on New Year’s Day when rice cakes, called kagamimochi, were offered to the Toshigami. The rice cakes given by parents to their children were called “”Toshidama”” in the old days, but nowadays they are replaced by small toys, and money.

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