The Tradition Of Soba Noodles In Japan On New Year
Image Credit: Long Soba Noodles | Pexels

When talking about luck, practices are often connected with superstitions and rituals. Several cultures around the world are involved in practices that are connected with bringing luck to the journey ahead. Some say, eating something green invites financial fortune while others say eating something long invites longevity.

Well, being involved in this superstition might sound weird at first, but it certainly can't hurt! And what is a better way than starting a new journey with something delicious?

Just like several cultures and food customs around the world, one of the most delicious New Year's food traditions is found in Japan. In the land of the rising sun, people often praise the beginning of the new year by embracing the deep-rooted customs in their traditions. Among the most cherished practices, consuming soba noodles on New Year's Eve has a symbolic significance that makes the way for good fortunes in the upcoming year.

But, What Is Soba Noodle? 

Soba noodles are a type of thin noodle made with buckwheat flour. It holds a special place in the Japanese culinary heritage.  Eating "Toshikoshi soba," or "year-crossing noodles," on New Year's Eve is an age-old custom that represents letting go of all the hardships and challenges of the previous year in order to welcome the New Year with a fresh start.

Soba noodles, known for their simplicity and nutritional content, are not only delicious but also represent longevity and tenacity. Soba noodles' length symbolises the desire for a long and prosperous life, while its simplicity encourages everyone to let go of the past. Preparing and eating these long and thin soba noodles on New Year's Eve is an ancient Japanese tradition. These noodles are consumed with a long slurp without breaking in between on New Year's Eve, and those who can do so will have good luck in the next year.

How This Custom Began?

This odd custom has a history that goes back around 800 years, to the Kamakura era, and it is supposed to have originated in a Buddhist temple that distributed soba to underprivileged people on New Year's Day. These New Year's noodles originated in the Edo period  (1603–1868) in Japan. During this time, soba noodles gained popularity due to their affordability, simplicity, and the belief in their health benefits. Since their humble beginnings, these noodles have become an ingrained culture in Japanese tradition.

What Is The Best Time To Eat Soba Noodles?

When the world celebrates the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight, eating soba noodles during that time is often considered a bad practice. Toshikoshi soba is literally termed "New Year's Eve noodles," yet eating them at midnight is actually thought to be unlucky. This relates to the definition of "breaking off the old year," which was previously noted.

Since the old and new years overlap somewhat at midnight, you can't truly "break off" all of your problems from the previous year; instead, they continue over into the next year. Toshikoshi soba is really consumed in some parts of Japan after the New Year's festivities are over, and there are many who think that eating at shrines and temples while hearing the bells heralding the New Year will also bring misfortune.

What time of day is it appropriate to consume Toshi Koshi soba then? The response varies based on the area and home, just make sure that there isn't any overlap and there are no bells ringing.

Image Credit: Pexels

How To Eat Soba?

Soba noodles can be prepared in both warm and cold ways. Several delectable dishes can be made out of these noodles. They are so versatile that they can be prepared with a variety of ingredients, soups and meats. The most popular way to eat soba though is with dipping sauce made with soy sauce and vinegar along with sesame seeds and peppercorn.

Beginning the New Year with something delicious and heartwarming like soba noodles is always a great way to mark the start of something good. Not only are these noodles flavourful, making them is also a fun activity and holding competitions between family and friends to see who can take the longest slurp can be a fun activity. So, this New Year's Eve, make these delicious soba noodles at home.