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 spirts for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (lit. bean scattering).
Mamemaki is usually performed by the toshiotoko 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) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or evil spirit) 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 (or evil spirits) out! Luck (or blessing) 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 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.
Japanese Language Program
University of Vermont
479 Main Street
Burlington, Vermont 05405
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Hello Everyone,Sorry this is last minute, but tomorrow the Japanese House will be celebrating Mamemaki in the Living/Learning Center. For those of you who don't know, Mamemaki is a Japanese holiday where we throw beans inside and outside to purify our residence. We'll be starting the celebration at 2:00pm tomorrow (Saturday 2/3) in the International Lounge in B-High.If you're stressed out, you should come! The only chance you get to throw beans at people in the name of a holiday.Please Come! We'll be putting the demons outside and bring good fortune in!Jonathan Tinkham