Here is a wintry verse for your household.
It’s snowing like crazy here in Washington DC. How about where you are?
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.
The dinner hour is pretty much the only time the whole family is together, and we customarily begin the meal with a verse. Sometimes it’s our old standbys; but, to avoid the meaninglessness engendered by repetition, I have illustrated a number of the verses we use in homeschooling and keep a binder of them at the table. Some are seasonal, like this one; a few are humorous; many are simply reminders to be conscious of and thankful for our blessings.