It is a custom in Japan on New Year’s Day to eat lucky food called ‘osechi’. Many of the food items represent prosperity, good fortune and health. Osechi was originally a way for families to survive the first few days of the New Year when shops throughout Japan are closed for the holidays. This food can be made and stored in a cool place without spoiling for a few days.
During my wife’s grandmother’s time they would spend days making osechi prior to New Years. Today most people purchase their osechi at a department store which start taking orders as early as late October. You need to order early at some of the high end stores as they can sell out within a few days. We got ours from Takashimaya department store.