The term “Otoshi-dama” refers to money and goods given to celebrate the New Year.
Nowadays, it is used to refer to the custom of giving money, especially to children, and the money itself.
It is characterized by a superior giving a gift to a inferior, and is one of the biggest events of the New Year for children.
There is a theory that the origin of the word “Otoshi-dama” comes from the round mirror rice cakes that were offered to welcome the Kamis at New Year’s, and were given to children by the patriarch of the family, who called them “Otoshi-dama”.
It has the meaning of wishing for the safe growth of the child by sharing the “spirit of the Kami of the year,” which is necessary for the child to live for the entire year, with the child.
Even today, there is the “counting of years,” and it is said that the term “counting years” was born on the first day of every year, when everyone is supposed to grow old at the same time, as if the spirit of the Kami of the year could be divided from the Kami of the year and another year could be spent.
There is also a theory that it was called “Toshi-dama” because it was a gift at the beginning of the year.
The custom of giving New Year’s gifts dates back to the Middle Ages, when samurai would give swords, townspeople would give fans, and doctors would give pills.
It is said that it was not until the 1960s that it became common to give cash as we do today.
It is said to be a substitute for rice and rice cakes, as rural communities were dismantled with economic growth and people became urban dwellers.
In order to make it applicable to the modern age, it is becoming more and more common to give prepaid cards that can be used on smartphones.