The day where children all over Japan are scared witless by big monsters called Oni and throw peanuts at them to make them go away. While the kids do this they chant, "Oni wa soto; fuku wa uchi" (monsters/evil out; happiness in).
Our first week here our host family showed us a home video of the father dressing up as oni and trying to get in the house as the daughters chucked peanuts at him. Well, the oldest threw peanuts; the younger daughter cried and hid behind her mom's legs.
Crying is pretty much a mainstay of Setsubun. Moms I've talked to about it share how the schools have people dressed as oni come so the kids can throw their peanuts. Then they take a class picture, which is mostly a group of red-faced crying children.
Maybe it's like how I think it's hilarious seeing pictures of kids freaking out on Santa's lap.
heartbreaking, yet hilarious
At play group last week, we sang a setsubun song about oni's underwear. It was pretty funny. I told an American friend and she said it was a common song that her daughters learned at preschool, too.
I've found the words for you so you can sing it, too!
To the tune of "Funiculi, Funiculi" (The traditional Italian song)
and the translation: