Thursday, February 03, 2005

Happy Setsubun!


Oni ha soto, fuku ha uchi!

"Ogres out, fortune in!"

Today is the traditional New Year in Japan. It is halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and strikes me as a much more sensible date than the seemingly random January 1. Of course, solstices and equinoxes do tend to move a bit each year, meaning setsubun is on a different date each year ... A bit inconvenient for business purposes, I admit. Anyway, setsubun is not a national holiday, and the Japanese celebrate New Year's Eve and Day by the Western calendar. But they also keep the old traditional holiday alive as well.

In Japanese family traditions, one member of the family plays the "oni." The rest of the family chases the oni around the house, throwing soybeans at him. This chases out bad luck for the coming year and lets good luck in. After it's finished, each person should find and eat a number of beans equal to their age.

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