In our family, we usually eat seaweed miso soup on New Year’s Day. I remember my mom would wake up early before everyone and would make us breakfast, no matter how tired we were from the night before. Whatever food she would make us, seaweed miso soup would always be a staple part of our breakfast on New Year’s Day. She used to tell us that drinking the soup on the first day of the year would ensure good health for all of us throughout the year and thus, would lead to prosperity. That is a recurring theme in Japanese culture, you know..actually int any Asian cultures….to link prosperity to health. Anyway, now that I am away from home, I try to keep these traditions closer to me than ever before. Last New Years, I was not able to go back home but I made sure to make the miso soup for myself. Reminded me of home.
CL is a college student studying journalism. Originally from Japan, she moved to the United States with her family when she was ten years old. She tells me that even though they don’t live in Japan anymore, her family tries their hardest to not forget their culture roots. CL told me the above piece of information in a conversation about New Year traditions that we observe at our homes.
The above is an example of a folk food that is used to bridge cultural gaps and to feel closer to a family’s cultural roots. Despite leaving the country they were born, through certain cultural motifs such as food, it can be observed that people can feel closer to their cultures and communities. It is not the miso soup that holds meaning, but the act of consuming it on a New Years day that bears cultural significance. Thus, this shows that meaning is usually generated when an individual usually links an act to a widespread significant event (here, New Years Day) and integrates it into society.