Setsubun

Japan

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Japan

Setsubun

Depending on the Lunar calendar Setsubun is usually celebrated on February 3rd. On Setsubun the Japanese throw roasted soybeans. The term Setsubun (literally means “seasonal division”) indicates the day before the beginning of each season, which means that there are four Setsubn: Srping Setsubun, which is the New Year’s Eve in the Lunar calendar, and Japanese celebrate the day yearly.  The celebration is accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all of the evil of the former year in the Lunar calendar and drive way disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki, which means “bean scattering.” Roasted soybeans are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing a mask of Oni (demon or ogre). The throwers chant “Oni wa soto! Fuki wa uchi!” The meaning of this chanting is something like, “Get out, Demons. Come on in Good Luck.” 

The roasted soy beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and illness with them. As a part of the bringing good luck in, Japanese customarily eat soybeans, one for each year of one’s life. If you are 35 years old, you eat 35 beans. In some areas, people eat one for each year of one’s life, plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come. If you are 35, you eat 36 beans. Also, there are some regions where people bite into futomaki (big sushi roll) without cutting at all. They believe that your wish will come true if you bite into the uncut futomaki. “Roll” symbolizes “rolling good luck in,” and to bite “uncut” represents the fact that your relationship would never be severed. 

    Victoria

    Victoria has been cooking and writing recipes since she was a teenager. Originally from Nebraska, her appreciation for culinary technique took off when she moved to Lyon, France. Victoria is published in Hearst Newspapers, Greenwich Free Press, New Canaanite, and more.

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