Well, if you’re Japanese, or in Japan, then the answer is throw them. February 3rd is Setsubun, it’s sort of like a New Year’s Eve, with a ritual to cleanse away the evil of the year, and drive out evil spirits, by throwing beans at them.
I would imagine in the UK the mask is optional, but what the heck, maybe give it a go!
The beans are a roasted soy bean, and you either throw them out the door or at the person wearing the Oni mask, whilst shouting Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! and slamming the door. Roughly translated it means demons out, luck in.
If you want some appropriate snacks, then the Japan Centre has a Setsubun bean snack set, complete with a Shishimai lion dance costume shaped gift bag, so really giving it an authentic feel. The snacks are crispy coated peanuts with a variety of flavours, from wasabi to mayonnaise.
And if you don’t want to just throw your roasted soy beans, then they have some great sounding rice crackers with embedded roasted soy beans in them. Perfect healthy snacking.
It’s certainly not a festival I’d heard of before, but it could be a bit of fun on what otherwise is a pretty non descript February day!
Photo of by Kimubert on Flickr.