Two celebrations fall on February 3rd in 2011: Setsubun, the Japanese demon-expelling festival; and Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. Today’s title was suggested by my brilliant husband.
The Rabbit is supposed to be the luckiest of all the signs. If you were born in the Year of the Rabbit, you are gentle, sensitive, modest, sincere, and affectionate yet shy. Rabbits enjoy being at home, surrounded by family and friends. They seek peace throughout their lives, and are sometimes seen as pushovers because they like to avoid conflict. Although the Rabbit above looks like a pretty tough character, he is, after all, defending his peaceful home from demons.
We have decided to celebrate the two events simultaneously, which will be a challenge. Setsubun involves eating as many beans as you are years old for luck, and hanging garlic or a fish head on your door and throwing beans while chanting the verse above (“Demons Out! Happiness In!”)—both useful practices for repelling demons. Chinese New Year means plenty of red decorations, writing good-fortune verses, and shooting off fireworks. For both events there is special clothing (kimonos, or anything red, or a bunny hat are all acceptable in our house) and of course special foods (like friend Mary’s world-famous Bunny Cake). And, although it’s not traditional, we are including Chinese horoscopes, fortune cookies, origami bunny-folding, and an impressive gathering in the dining room of all our children’s stuffed rabbits.
BTW, for our door we are choosing garlic instead of a fish head.
For another sketch of Setsubun, please see Demons Out! Happiness In!
For another sketch of Chinese New Year, please see Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright.