Out with the bad gods! 3 February is Setusubun, a day by the old calendar when winter transforms into spring. On this magical day, children all over Japan are throwing dried beans at a stand-in baddie god, often played in good humor by their dad, fulfilling the important seasonal task of warding off the bad and inviting in the good. In this multiverse, somewhere between the chill of the solar calendar and the warmth of the lunar, older folk can play and reminisce, too.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania on 2 February, children and parents were holding their breath on Groundhog Day, waiting for celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney to give their spring forecast. Alas, in the Year of the Rabbit, Punxsutawney saw their shadow and announced six more weeks of winter. But patience is a virtue that rewards at a later time and place. Spring is coming to the Old Vic in London in May, for instance, in the musical version of Danny Rubin’s book, Groundhog Day.
In the meantime, there’s still more to celebrate. The fifteenth and last day of the Lunar New Year celebrations is the Spring Lantern Festival, celebrated this year on Sunday 5 February. Based on a Chinese legend about a community that defended itself by tricking the enemy arsonist into thinking the village was already burning when it had actually just decorated the village with lanterns, the Lantern Festival is the creative wisdom behind today’s family reunions, lantern riddles and sweet-filled round dumplings.
Spring is nearly here. Maybe half the delight is in the anticipation:
Groundhog says patience
Good things come for those who wait
Oni out! Joy in!