Japanese New Year Custom for Kids – Otoshidama-

January 7, 2020 Juju Kurihara Culture, Custom, Vocabulary Tags: , , , , 2 Comments

One of the things I loved about Oshogatsu when I was a child but I don’t like about it as an adult is, Otoshidama (お年玉). This is a Japanese New Year custom that children receive some money during the new year. As I grew up in a small family and I had relatives only from my mother’s side, the amount of Otoshidama wasn’t so big. But some of out classmates would collect around 500€ which was a great deal for a 11-year-old child. We would have a competition who got more money. I would never told how much I received since I had only a few relatives.

 

http://bit.ly/2Qpx7P8
http://bit.ly/2Qpx7P8[/caption]

As an adult, Otoshidama is a completely another story. I haven’t been back to Japan for the new year for a long time and I could somehow manage not to give otoshidama to my nieces and a nephew. But the things have changed since my son was born. His grandma wants to see him and one year, we went to spend the new year in Japan. I had five nieces and nephews at that time and I gave 20 to 30€ each. Ouch…. 

 

https://media.moneyforward.com/articles/2356
https://media.moneyforward.com/articles/2356[/caption]

 

Now I’m glad I don’t have a big family but still, I will have seven nieces and nephews by next new year. Since my son gets some, I will have to give them too. I better start saving up some money. 

 

But how much do you have to give them? There are some standard amounts. 

  • 0 to 5 years old : 1000 yen (9-10€)
  • 6 to 9 years old : 2000 yen (18-20€)
  • 9 to 12 years old : 3000 yen (28-30€)
  • Secondary school students : 5000 yen (48-50€)
  • High school to university students : 5000 yen to 10,000 yen (48-100€)

This is just an idea and each family has a slightly different price setting. 

 

 

There are variety of designs for the otoshidama envelope, from the traditional patterns to the TV characters. 

[caption id="attachment_9046" align="aligncenter" width="994"]https://www.drwallet.jp/navi/13279/

 

If you are giving otoshidama, make sure you prepare new bills and not from your wallet. New bills mean “new start” and “preparation for this new year”. You can have them changed at any banks or post offices. So be prepared.

 

Also the bills are commonly folded in three. Never fold in four, because number 4 can be pronounced “shi” in Japanese and this sound also reminds Japanese people death (死, “shi”). It’s not so appropriate for a fresh new year. 

 

Here is a video shows you how to fold the bill in three. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

When and how much should we give otoshidama? : https://nacchi33.net/entry/2017-10-10-083000/

Otoshidama should be fold in three : https://kosodate19.com/11879.html

 

More about Japanese New Year

A Year of Mouse

New Year Decorations

Osechi Ryori

New Year Traditional Games

2 Comments

  1. Beth Parkhurst 10 months Reply

    Thank you for this interesting lesson! I’m very familiar with the Chinese equivalent, the red envelope. I didn’t know that this was also a custom in Japan.

    The standard amount to give to Chinese-American children seems to be $20 — at least that was the standard amount when my Chinese-American friends’ son was a little boy.

    • Juju Kurihara 10 months

      The tradition came from China like many other customs. Children in Korean, Taiwan and Vietnam also receive new year’s money. 

      $20 sounds very reasonable. Soon my nieces and nephews grow and we will have to give them 100€ each. That will hurt our wallet…

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