Setsubun (节分) is a non-Japanese national holiday celebrating off the arrival of spring according to the old lunar calendar (agricultural calendar of Chinese origin). Nowadays, it is celebrated on February 3 of each year.

Setsubun literally means bamboo nodes that separate each section of the trunk. This section symbolizing each season, the setsubun is the moment of passage from one season to another. There was therefore once setsubun four festivals, of which only the "beginning of Spring" (立春, risshun), is still celebrated today.

This celebration of Chinese origin, penetration in Japan around the eighth century (Nara Period). The original is a setsubun ceremony exorcisation which, from the Heian period (IX-XII), was celebrated in two different ways. On the one hand, it became a big party palace, where the noble hunted by the arc of evil spirits, and on the other hand, a religious festival, where the same evil spirits were exorcised with the help of beans Soybeans (大豆, daizu). It was not until the Muromachi period, to see the two ceremonies merge again. It was only from the Edo period that the feast of setsubun is democratizing and takes a form similar to that which is practised today.

At home
Nowadays, the tradition's most famous setsubun, is the mame-maki (豆撒き). It is to launch (撒く, maku: sow) seeds of beans (豆, mame) through the window of houses shouting alternately Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外!福は内!), Which means "Outside the demons! Inside the happiness! ". It is therefore to escape the negative forces embodied by oni (demons) who seek to invade the home each year and attract good fortune in the house.

Read also Sarugaku


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