Demons Out! Happiness In!

OniWaSoto

In the northern hemisphere, early February is the season of festivals of light, spring, and beginnings, because of its placement approximately mid-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Candlemas and Groundhog Day are but two examples. Another is the ancient Celtic festival Imbolc, named for the pregnancy and lactation of ewes, and celebrated with the lighting of fires in anticipation of the returning sun. In Japan the festival of Setsubun marks the beginning of the spring season, and this year, according to the old lunar calendar, it falls on February 3rd.

Given the numerous Japanophiles in our household, we are moved to celebrate Setsubun. First, we eat special sushi rolls containing seven ingredients—seven being a lucky number—in complete silence, while facing the auspicious direction for the year (in 2010 it’s sort of south-southeast) and making a New Year wish. After dinner we eat one roasted soybean for each year of our lives so far, pondering the memorable events. This alone keeps certain of us busy for some time. Then we toss the remaining soybeans out into the darkness and shout ONI WA SOTO! FUKU WA UCHI! to chase away wicked demons (and wary neighbors) and bring happiness. Some people (not us) also hang a fish head on the front door. Depending upon the kind of demon, I bet this is pretty effective.

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One Response to “Demons Out! Happiness In!”

  1. Melinda Clarke says:

    Dear Sheila-I have been missing your dear blog. Why I ever stopped visiting it has only to do with new relationship overwhelm, moving twice, and really resisting sitting down at my computer at all-and my partner being demanding of my time. A big issue here. Anyway I love your art and your heart. I love this demon! I hate undercooked or moldy beans! And there’s your family with Devin not really being 14 anymore, is he? Thank you for re-entering your d aily celebration into my life. Melinda

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