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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Setsubun!

Last week Thuy did a beautiful job sharing the festivities to prepare for Tet or the Lunar New Year. Although Japanese do not follow the same lunar calendar, we too have our own way of getting the evil spirits out and allowing luck to flow into our homes. It’s a festival known as Setsubun.

Setsubun, meaning “seasonal division”, is usually celebrated on February 3rd or 4th. It is not a national holiday in Japan but rather a festival celebrated at schools, temples, and in the home. This festival involves throwing mame maki, which are soybeans, at your friends or the head of your household. Yes, you read this correctly, we Japanese throw beans at you to get the evil spirits out and to bring luck and happiness in!

Here’s how it works:

First, you purchase mame maki at the stores. The beans are usually accompanied with a mask.


If you are celebrating at school, one of your classmates wears the mask and pretends to be the oni, which is a ogre. The other classmates throw beans at the ogre while saying, “Oni wa Soto, Fuku wa Uchi!” This is to ward off any evil spirits for the coming year. It sounds much worse than it is. It’s pronounced foo-koo and translated means, “Get out, Ogre! Come in good luck/happiness!”

If you are celebrating at home, the father usually plays the roll of the ogre while the children throw beans at him. What I find most amusing about this festival is the fact that Japanese are very fixated on cleaning their homes before the New Year, yet throw beans everywhere just a month later!

After the bean throwing, you are supposed to eat the same number of beans as your age, plus one for the coming year.



In the evening, families usually eat a special thick sushi called futomaki. Rather than slicing the sushi, each person eats the roll while facing the yearly lucky compass direction, which is determined by the annual zodiac symbol.


I had completely forgotton about the Setsuban festival and was reminded while grocery shopping at my favorite Japanese market in San Francisco. If you would like to bring some luck and happiness into your home and share in the Japanese culture, all you need are beans! (I've heard that peanuts are also acceptable.)

What would be even more fun is to have the kids start throwing beans at Dad as soon as he walks in the door. How can he get upset when the children are warding off the evil spirits and bringing happiness into the home? Let me know how it works out.

-Kacey

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36 comments:

Alicia said...

Wow..crazy superstition! I guess the only fun part would be being able to throw beans at someone! LOL

The Thompson's said...

Wow what fun! We love teaching different cultures festivities to our kids, so Im sure we will do this one. Not to mention, I loves me some sushi so what a great reason to get me some spicy tuna!

Love and Prayers,

Tim

blueviolet said...

I find every bit of this fascinating. I am so glad you shared it!

So said...

I don't think it would go over well with my husband. Maybe if I go the masks....

Very interesting though.

Lori said...

What a cool tradition, thanks for teaching me something new today.

P.S. I'm going to tell the Greeks about this harmless bean-throwing. For good luck, the Greeks spit at you three times, which is alarming to a germaphobe like myself.

Brooke said...

That is very interesting! I love learning new things about different cultures. Thanks for sharing!

joanofalltrades said...

I never knew about this. I always appreciate learning new things about different cultures. Thanks for the enlightenment. And thanks for the pronunciation of fuku--phew! The sushi looks yummy!

♥georgie♥ said...

I love learning about other cultures!

Me said...

Now I have an excuse to throw things at my hubby!

On a more serious note..Thanks for sharing. I enjoy learning new things. Fascninating!

Jo said...

I totally have to start celebrating this! Any holiday that involves sushi eating, in my book, needs be celebrated at least weekly. YUM!

Jillene said...

HAHAHAHA!! I totally want to throw beans at my husband!! This is an AEWSOME tradition--thanks for sharing!!

Kathy said...

Former E-Bay chick, coming out of stalking to say thanks for the cultural update. One of my good friends is Japanese, and now I can wish her a Happy Setsubun. I will also ask her how they pick the kid who gets the beans thrown at him/her. I wonder if it's one of those times you WANT to be chosen last on the playground :)

forever folding laundry said...

Awesome post, Kace! Thanks for the lesson on Setsubun. I look forward to pelting Gary with beans this evening. You know, the first time I ever had sushi was in 7th grade when your mom made it for us. I suppose I owe her a huge thank you for the monster she has created. =)

Ali said...

This looks like way too much fun!

the letter Bee said...

Wow that's cool! Thanks for sharing that!

JanMary said...

Fascinating - never knew any of that!

Thanks for visiting my blog in N Ireland.

It is Disneyland PARIS we are going to this weekend. (We have also been to WDW in Florida).

Lara said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the new education! It actually sounds really fun to throw beans at your dad! :)

Mama Wheaton said...

I'm trying to decide exactly how mad dad might get at being pelted with beans. My three boys would probably be throwing for the most damage than for luck. But I'll think about it, plus who cleans up the beans (i'm sure dad wouldn't)

B said...

Seriously? I'm game for anything that let's me throw something at someone.

Helene said...

What a fun tradition!!! I really enjoy reading about your culture every time you post something about it!!! And the sushi looks yummy!!!!!

Becky said...

Thanks for the excuse to throw beans! Awesome. And that sushi looks fantastic.

TrueLoveIsaMama said...

I will definitely be throwing beans at my husband when he walks in the door today! Thanks for sharing!

rychelle said...

love learning stuff like this.
thanks.

Counselormama said...

Too bad I didn't know about this before our Superbowl party, I could've used some beans then! Thanks for sharing!

Debbie said...

This is fascinating! We don't see much of this in the hills of TN!

Grand Pooba said...

Oh my gosh, that sounds like my kind of festival! Masks, beans, sushi, throwing things that can possibly injure my husband and he can't get mad at me? Why haven't I heard of this before?

You're a genius to share this with everyone. And to think I just met you today, I've been missing out this whole time!

I'm so glad that I'll have a friend in Hell. What a relief.

I'll see you in Hell!

Nana said...

As long as I get to throw something at anyone I am in.

pam said...

I hope there was lots of beans thrown your way! Thanks for sharing about something I didn't know anything about.

Pam said...

Hello Ladies!

What a fun place this is to visit. And I learned something really cool while I was here!

Just stopping in to say thanks to Francesca for dropping by my place and the comforting comment that I'm not alone with my parenting style. Or at least, in my Not Me Mondays!

See you around,
Pam

Domestically Disabled Girl said...

That looks like fun! thanks for sharing. Not sure how well the whole bean thing would do at our house, my hubby is sorta anal, but I love a good marshmallow fight!!

Stesha said...

So who's going to throw the beans at Francesca?

Hugs and Mocha,
Stesha

Peaches said...

You'll be happy to know that my hubby and I pelted each other with dried edamame beans tonight! Let the good luck commence!

a corgi said...

this was fun to read, I can't imagine throwing beans at someone though,but always interesting to read other cultures and how they celebrate different holidays

betty

Lana said...

is it just kids who get to throw the beans, or could I... Sometimes daddy needs things thrown at him, and I just found the best excuse! Er, reason!!
Thanks for sharing. What a fun post!

The Blonde Duck said...

What a cool tradition! That's really neat!

heidi said...

Yay - I learned something new today! Can't say that every day. Thank you for sharing that. :-)