Today, is Setsubun in Japan. Now I only have memories of throwing soy beans so I thought I would do a little research and find out what it really means.
Good old Wiki to the rescue, here’s a little history. The word setsubun means separate the season. So it started as the day before the start of each new season. However, since the Edo period it has meant the day before the start of Spring (hard to believe looking out the window today). Because it was believed that bad spirits tended to appear when the season was changing, a tradition developed to chase them away. Around the time the ritual was adopted by the lower classes (circa 1447), toasted soy beans were thrown at people dressed as demons to ward off evil spirits in temples and shrines. People also put sea bream heads speared on a holly branch on their door at dusk on setsubun as a talisman.
Today, the tradition lives on in the form of symbolically throwing soy bean outside the house caling “Oni wa Soto” meaning demons, out and “Fuku wa Uchi” meaning fortune, in. I remember when I was little doing it at home but my mom wouldn’t let us throw many beans in the house because it was messy to clean up afterwards. My mom is a bit of a neat fanatic so my sister and I thought it was great that we deliberately got to throw things on the floor. Another tradition is you eat as many beans as your age plus one so that you stay healthy and have good fortune throughout the year. But when I was a little kid, roasted soy beans were not my idea of a good snack. But fortunately you don’t have to eat that many of them. We did the bean throwing at school too and one of the gym teachers always put a demon mask on and got pelted with roasted beans. If it is your year on the zodiac calendar, then you get to be the one that throws the beans. Every year the big shrines get celebrities and athletes who are aged multiples of 12 to come and throw the beans. There are lots of warding off evil kinds of traditions in Japan. Either they were very superstitious or lots of bad things happened. I hope there was lots of throwing beans in Japan today, the demons need to be beaten back.
Thank you to my friends who commented on my blog and asked me for recipes. Please let me know how it turns out, I would love to know.
On a totally different note, I went to a coffee morning today and met lots of really interesting women. It is really hard to meet new people and you tend to hang out with the same people all the time, not that it’s a bad thing but I find meeting new people really stimulating and I love hearing about how they got to London and sharing our stories. Our hostess is a wonderfully dynamic woman who draws people to her. It is her warm personality and hospitality skills that made the morning such a success. We all overstayed our welcome and sat well beyond the time originally scheduled.
My camera has returned from its holiday and is taking lovely photos. I hope to be able to make the blogs a bit more interesting with some photos in the future.