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All about Setsubun(節分)
February 3rd marks a historical day in Japan for celebrating an annual festival called Setsubun. Occurring a day before the beginning of spring, the primary food that is served during this festival are beans (also known as “mame” in Japanese). Traditionally, people eat the same number of beans as their age.
Why are beans traditionally eaten during setsubun?
Based on Japan’s ancient history, it has been said that “the change of seasons is a time when evil spirits have a tendency to enter people’s homes.” People chase these evil spirits away by throwing mame (beans) into their “eyes” to “destroy” them.
The word “mame” can be broken down into meaningful syllables. “Ma” means “evil” while “me” can translate into “eyes” or “to destroy.”
There are also various theories about why beans are eaten during setsubun.
*Evil (魔=ma) + eyes (目＝me)=mame→beans
*Evil (魔=ma) + to destroy (滅=me)=mame→beans
Through this old tradition, setsubun is an event where people eatthe same number of beans (mame) as their age to ward off evil spirits and hope for a happy and healthy life for the rest of the year.
Generally, a lot of people may know that roasted soybeans are eaten during Setsubun, but steamed soybeans are easier to digest than roasted soybeans. Steamed soybeans also lock in important nutrients; therefore, steamed beans are the best option for Setsubun.
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