They're for good luck. They're kind of superstitious here, no? We hear they'll be burning them in a few days for the annual Dondoyaki ritual (this facilitates, not diminishes the luck).
Do you know about takoyaki? They're battered and fried octopus balls. John loves 'em. This guy impressed us with his takoyaki flipping abilities on New Year's. We were mesmerized. Also he was listening to hip hop and wearing a Rocawear shirt, which was pretty cool.
By the way - a big thanks to our family for the video camera they bought us as a going away present. Our other camera has battery issues so we've been using it exclusively these days.
Lastly, I made crackers yesterday. We don't have wheat thins and such around these parts so I decided to make my own using this recipe. I put different topping combinations on each batch - salt, pepper, sesame seeds, rosemary, sage, etc. Now that I think about it, I should have used dill. Next time! Even if you can go to the store and easily buy crackers, I still recommend making your own. They're delicious, don't have weird preservatives and you can customize them.