CultureEssayEtymologyHistoryJapanese traditionKanjiUncorrected

Otoshidama (お年玉 – New Year’s Gift Money)

  • Otoshidama


    There is a kind of New Year events called お年玉 (otoshidama), which is important for children.

    Otoshidama refers to money that is given by adults to children when starting the New Year.

    It is said that this tradition comes from the fact that 鏡餅 (kagami mochi – round rice cake) preparing for welcoming 歳神 (toshigami – Shinto God) were given to children
    as 年玉 (toshidama) after fulfilling the role.

    Here, the literal meanings of 年 (toshi) and 玉 (dama/tama) are “year” and “ball,” respectively.
    ここで、「年」は “year,”「玉」は “ball” を意味します。

    There are several theories about the etymology of toshidama — one says that it comes from 年の賜物 (toshi no tamamono – year’s gift), and another sayd that it comes from 年の魂 (toshi no tamashii – year’s soul).

    Original sentence