Q. When is the best time to send oseibo gifts?
A. It is common to send oseibo between December 13th and December 20th, but the standard timing for sending them differs depending on the regions. In the Kanto region (Tokyo area), the gifts should be delivered between early December and December 31, while in the Kansai region (Osaka area), they should be delivered between December 13, the beginning of the preparation for New Year, and December 31, the end of the year. Therefore, there is no problem if the gifts are delivered by December 31st. However, to avoid overlapping with the busy year-end season, it would be better if they were sent from around early December to December 25th, at the latest. Recently, many people started sending gifts in mid-November. If you miss the time, you can send them as New Year's gifts during the Matsunouchi period (by January 7th in most areas, and 15th in Kansai) or as Kanchu Oukagai gifts after that until Risshun (the first day of spring, which is Febrary 4th in 2024).
Q. How do I present an oseibo gift in a pleasant manner?
A. The official way is to ask about the recipient's schedule in advance and bring the gift to the recipient's home, but in recent years, delivery has become more common. Even in this case, it is advisable to send a letter or a postcard to the recipient, expressing your gratitude and your recent situation, to make a good impression to the recipient. If the gift is for a very close friend or relative, a phone call to let them know of the gift is acceptable.
Q. What should I do if I receive an oseibo gift?
A. It is a good manner to respond to the thoughtfulness of the recipient as soon as possible. After receiving the gift safely, it is common to send a thank-you card or letter. If you are very close to the recipient, or if you want to let them know that you have received their gift as soon as possible, you can call or send a text message or an e-mail. Since the oseibo is a token of gratitude, there is no need to return the thought with another gift. However, if you receive a gift from a friend, colleague, or an unexpected person, it is a good idea to give a gift in return of the same amount of price or contents.
Q. What is the history of oseibo?
A. It is said that the oseibo custom originally started when offerings to the spirits of ancestors were distributed to relatives and neighbors at the end of the year. In Japan, there was a custom called Goryo-Matsuri to welcome the spirits of ancestors during the New Year. It is said that the oseibo used to be brought to the family by a daughter that got married and left the house or by someone from a branch of a family to the head of the family as an offering for the Goryo-Matsuri.
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