Thursday, February 3, 2011

A War of Cultures – Cultures Clashing

Today in Japan is the "Setsubun", the day that announces the transition of winter to spring. In theory this is something that I would very much welcome, but since the morning news still did features on the grotesque amounts of snow that some areas in Japan are suffering from and that the temperatures still go down to just about 0 degrees C in the morning and evenings when I walk to or from the station I remain unconvinced.

There are also a bunch of traditions associated with this day. It seems to be some form of mix of eating a giant norimaki (you know, the seaweed and rice roll that falls into the sushi category although it doesn't need to contain any raw fish) in one go, eating a lot of dried soy beans, dressing up as an ogre, shouting the slogan "out with the demons, in with happiness" while throwing beans around, among the things I know.


Needless to say, I'm not particularly excited about this highly important cultural event or feel any particular urgency to participate. In general, Mrs. Sunshine is not too picky about correctly celebrating Japanese customs like this, but now with the adorable little Baby Sunshine, she wants to have her experience these types of traditions from now, something which I of course am perfectly fine with as long as my participation can be kept under control.

So we have a silent understanding; she can celebrate Japanese customs and spend some money on the required accessories without me complaining and I can celebrate such important Swedish traditional events such as Midsummer through the traditional way of dancing around huge phallic symbols and getting dead drunk. Not to mention the August crayfish party which I traditionally celebrate the Swedish way by getting dead drunk (I never really liked those crayfish to begin with so I mostly skip those). I have not yet decided whether I will celebrate the December 13th St. Lucia Day the traditional way of getting dead drunk or not, I might be getting too old for that.

(That brings back fond memories of the Lucia tradition in the schools in Sweden where one girl was elected to be the Lucia, the other girls her "light carrying maids" and the boys would be either "star boys", "kid santas" or gingerbread men. I particularly fondly remember the old school racist way of picking the darker skinned adopted kids to be the gingerbread men as “they are so brown and adorable”, us with Asian genes usually could avoid that fate)

12 comments:

aimlesswanderer said...

Amazing how those festivals you found annoying at home suddenly become so important.

You need to see if there are any more "interesting", if more obscure Swedish festivals out there...

Taarne said...

Meanwhile, in Finland

Down to zero, you say? A little bit of snow, you say? Harrumph! What kind of talk is this from a swede?!


..Not that I wouldn't jump at the chance to go somewhere sunny and warm. I'm just envious and bitter. Bring on the dead drunk traditions!

BiggerInJapan said...

may I join the Foreign Salaryman for Midsummer celebrations?

Martin said...

You forgot the traditional Valborg-Celebration. Getting dead drunk, making a huge bonfire and fighting.

A nice way to get to know your new neighbors better?

Ainsley said...

Dressing up!? I need to research this holiday a bit more...

Roberto said...

I've done setsubun comics over the last few years (yesterday's not quite finished) ... here's last year's:

http://sayacomic.blogspot.com/2010/02/setsubun-2.html

TheOctopus said...

dancing around huge phallic symbols

Have you considered taking Baby and Mrs. Sunshine to the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki? I am sure that would fulfill both your Swedish and her Japanese traditional needs.

Chris said...

"required accessories without me complaining and I can celebrate such important Swedish traditional events such as Midsummer through the traditional way of dancing around huge phallic symbols and getting dead drunk"

You got rights too! Where you gonna buy the giant Phallic symbols?

lina said...

Shouldn't be a problem getting huge phallic symbols right, what with the festival the good Mr Tako there had mentioned. :D

Mr. Salaryman said...

Aimless - Well, it's more the booze than anything, the rest is just there for show you know!

Taarne - That looks very... ... finnish? Although I still love Scandinavia, I'm trying to stay away from the winter there...

BiJ - You wouldn't say that if I told you about the dances you need to do...

Martin - Oh, of course, getting dead drunk at Valborg is important! Maybe I should arrange a local celebration.

Ainsley - Yeah, someone has to be the "oni"!

Roberto - Well, it's kinda cute

The Octopus - What about GETTING DEAD DRUNK was it you didn't understand?!

Chris - Actually, it's kinda weak compared to the Japanese ones, it's a big pole dressed in flowers and shit

Lina - Well, that's not really the same, I guess I have to make my own for little Baby Sunshine to get familiar with Swedish traditions

Mr. Salaryman said...

Aimless - Well, it's more the booze than anything, the rest is just there for show you know!

Taarne - That looks very... ... finnish? Although I still love Scandinavia, I'm trying to stay away from the winter there...

BiJ - You wouldn't say that if I told you about the dances you need to do...

Martin - Oh, of course, getting dead drunk at Valborg is important! Maybe I should arrange a local celebration.

Ainsley - Yeah, someone has to be the "oni"!

Roberto - Well, it's kinda cute

The Octopus - What about GETTING DEAD DRUNK was it you didn't understand?!

Chris - Actually, it's kinda weak compared to the Japanese ones, it's a big pole dressed in flowers and shit

Lina - Well, that's not really the same, I guess I have to make my own for little Baby Sunshine to get familiar with Swedish traditions

Janne Morén said...

Don't forget surströmming in September, when you eat fermented fish and get dead drunk. Or a traditional Christmas, with ham, dopp i grytan, herring and more than enough booze to get dead drunk.

Hmm, I wonder if there's any particular pattern to our festivities? Anyway, I really miss all of this, living in Japan.

Related Posts with Thumbnails