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3 February

The 3rd of February is Setsubun in Japan, a day that now marks the end of winter, and the start of spring, but which used to mark the start of a series of celebrations for the old lunar New Year (appromixately the 5th of February.) Setsubun is pretty much the only part of the old celebrations that has survived. In fact, there used to be 4 "setsubun" days each year, each marking a quarter of the year, but only this one continues.

Fuku Mame ("Happiness Beans" aka roasted soybeans) are sold and thrown for good luck and to chase away evil spirts. The throwing of beans is called "Mame Maki" (with "mame" meaning "beans".)

You open the doors and windows of your house and throw beans around inside, saying, "Oni wa Soto -- Fuku wa Uchi (Get out Bad Spirit! Come in Happiness!.) You also throw some out the door. In the house, after you throw them, you pick them up and eat them -- for luck, you should eat as many as you are years old. Beans are also thrown at temples by monks and famous personalities into crowds to drive evil spirits away from them

Sometimes fathers will put an evil spirit mask on and let their children throw beans at them.

A holly bush in front of a house might be decorated with a sardine head, garlic clove or onion hung in it to keep away evil spirits during the celebration (called "hiragi iwashi" "holly sardine." Or if there's no bush, holly leaves and one of the food items can be attached to the front door. Demons are presumed to be afraid of holly branches poking their eyes out, and to not like the strong-smelling foods.

An 8 inch (20 cm) long roll of Maki Sushi (called "Nori Maki") is made and left unsliced. Ideally, you eat it while facing in the lucky direction for that year, which changes each year based on the zodiac sign.

See also:

All February food days

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Oulton, Randal. "Setsubun." CooksInfo.com. Published 12 March 2004; revised 31 May 2009. Web. Accessed 12/17/2017. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/setsubun>.

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