Monday, February 1, 2010

Playtime!: Bean-throwing

By MamaD
The closest thing the Japanese have to Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) would be Setsubun, which is celebrated on Feb. 3 and marks the beginning of spring.

The idea is that you drive away all the evil spirits of winter in preparation for the cleansing of spring. This is performed during mamemaki or bean-throwing festival. I think traditionally soy beans are used, but it seems any kind would do the trick. As you throw them you yell, "oni wa soto" (get out demons) and "fuku wa uchi" (come in happiness)! Then, for some extra luck, you pick up the number of beans that equal your age and eat them up! These beans are called fuku mame (fortune beans). It is believed that people can be healthy and happy if they pick up and eat fuku mame the number equal to their ages.

Actually, I think that the Japanese setsubun holiday sounds a lot more fun than our Groundhog Day.

We thought a fun activity to commemorate this holiday for the kids would be to make homemade oni masks out of paper.

I found this great tutorial online here.  Then you can dance around the house throwing beans!  If your kids are old enough, challenge them to pick up as many beans as equal their age.  Unfortunately, if you have very young ones, this leaves most of the clean-up to Mom!

Many Japanese also eat sushi for Setsubun (called "fortune rolls"), so this may be a good time to try our MamaM's recipe for temaki sushi.  MamaQ is posting a tutorial for felted oni pillows tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!

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