Setsubun - Festival to scare away evil spirits

Setsubun (節 分) is the Japanese Festival on the eve of early spring in Japan.

The meaning of the name is literally division of seasons, a way to say goodbye to winter and celebrate the entrance of spring (Risshun), celebrated annually on February 3, is a traditional folk event that marks the official beginning of spring, according to the Japanese lunar calendar.

Although it is not a National holidaySetsubun is widely celebrated throughout Japan and is one of the favorite folk traditions of all Japanese children. A day to play and eat beans to ward off evil and welcome good luck.

For many centuries, the people of Japan performed rituals with the aim of expelling evil spirits in the early spring.

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In the past, this date was accompanied by an extensive special ritual for the purification of evil from the previous year and the removal of demons that could bring disease in the following year. This special ritual is known as Mamemaki.

The mamemaki at home is usually conducted by someone in the family who has the Chinese sign corresponding to the current year, by the head of the family or head of the family.

Families get together to throw the roasted beans at the front door, and a family member (usually the father) puts on a demon mask (oni) while the children sing Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Devils out! Good luck!) Throwing the beans.

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Then the mamemaki is made with the release of roasted bean grains around the house and in temples and shrines across the country. When throwing the beans, you must shout Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out, happiness and luck come in). Another superstition made on that day is that the person eats the amount of roasted beans grains corresponding to the age, that is, if the person is 25 years old, then he must eat 25 grains (after the mamemaki). This is a folk superstition to bring luck to the person. Children and adults have a lot of fun that day and it is very interesting because it is a very folk festival of Japanese culture.

In addition to the beans, people eat a special sushi called Ehomaki (the lucky sushi). A long sushi that should be eaten looking in the direction of luck in the direction of Eho (the god of happiness), eating all the Ehomaki in one go without stopping and without speaking so that you don't cut the luck. The direction of the Eho of the year is decided by Yin Yang and changes every year as south-southeast in 2013, west-southwest in 2015, north-east in 2019 and southwest in 2020.

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The sushi should be wrapped with nori seaweed and filled with seven ingredients in reference to the seven lucky gods. You can make suchi yourself at home, (the ingredients can be oboro denbu (pink), omelet or datemaki, cucumber, kanpyoo, kooyadoofu, anago or unagi and shiitake). Or buy ready, you'll see Ehoumaki ads and pamphlets on this date in supermarkets and convenience stores. The person has to eat the whole sushi cannot be sliced, because to cut means separation and with that one can cut the luck.

Like all traditional festivals, setsubun is celebrated across the country.

Setsubun History

Setsubun's tradition goes back centuries, but the tradition of throwing beans first appeared in the Muromachi period (1337-1573). Grains represent vitality and are believed to symbolically purify the home, warding off evil spirits that bring misfortune and health problems. As Japanese people like to play with words, the meaning of the pronunciation of the word beans (mame) is similar to the word for demonic eyes, so playing beans therefore has a sound similar to destroying demons.

Setsubun's origin is closely linked to Chinese customs and beliefs during the Lunar New Year, when the spirit world intersects with our world, allowing spirits to cross our paths and even enter our homes. Some of these spirits are believed to bring disease and bad luck to a family and should be purged from home before the start of the new (lunar) year.

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