Sunday, February 3, 2008

Setubun 節分

In Japan, Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of each season. The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun (立春), celebrated yearly on February 3. In its association with the Lunar New Year, Spring Setsubun can be thought of (and indeed was previously thought of) as a sort of New Year's Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き, lit. bean scattering).

Mamemaki is usually performed by the toshiotoko (年男) of the household (i.e. the male who was born on the corresponding animal year on the chinese zodiac), or else the male head of the household. Pan-heated soybeans (called irimame 炒り豆) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the throwers chant "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (鬼は外! 福は内!). The literal meaning of the words is something like "Demons out! Luck in!" The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat soybeans, one for each year of one's life, and in some areas, one for each year of one's life, plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come. In the Heian era, a famous Buddhist monk was said to have driven away oni by throwing beans.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Evil Out, Happiness in!