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December 8 on the Lunar Calendar is Muchi Day
post : 2021.01.13 07:00
Purple Muchi (steamed sticky rice, pronounced moo-chee) wrapped in a San’nin (Gettou) or ginger lily leaf.
People in Okinawa eat Muchi on December 8 according to the lunar calendar, to keep bad omens away.
Muchi is a common snack enjoyed in Okinawa, made with Mochi that is flavored and colored with white sugar, brown sugar, or purple potatoes called Beni-Imo.
The ginger lily leaves are called Kasa in the local language, so it is also referred to as Kasa Muchi.
It’s a simple but enjoyable snack, with a gentle and distinct aroma of the ginger lily leave, and the delightfully sweet mochi.
Ginger lily leaves are sold at stores, but people collect leaves from their gardens and wash them thoroughly to use them to wrap the Muchi.
Okinawans have traditionally celebrated various occasions based on the lunar calendar, and even today, these events are deeply rooted in the people’s lives.
The day of Muchi is on lunar December 8, and often, the days around this time can get quite chilly, and so there’s even a local phrase, “Muchi Bisa (moo-chee bee-sa)”, that describes the cold temperatures.
So, when you’re around town, you may hear the locals say, “It’s Muchi Bisa. It’s going to be cold today.”
The custom of casting away bad omens with the Muchi originated from a folklore of Okinawa Island.
Once upon a time, a brother and sister lived in Shuri.
One day, the brother began to live in a cave in Ozato Village.
At night, he went out and killed livestock and ate them, and he eventually turned into a demon.
To stop the demon who was once her brother, the sister made Mochi with iron nails hidden in them and wrapped them in ginger lily leaves.
The demon ate the Mochi and was no more.
According to the folklore, this happened on December 8 on the lunar calendar, and so this turned into a day where people made and ate Muchi to cast away evil spirits and to pray for the good health of their family.
As children, the locals make Muchi at nurseries and kindergarten, collect ginger lily leaves from their gardens and make them at home with their families. The day of Muchi is filled with fun, happy memories for many♪
For families who welcomed a baby in that year, there’s also a custom of making and eating Chikara Muchi, which is larger than a regular Muchi, and symbolizes the family’s wishes for the child to grow up healthy and strong.
Muchi is made by kneading Mochi powder (for the purple ones, Beni-Imo is mixed in), wrapped in ginger lily leaf, then steamed.
Held during the chilly season, Muchi is a day when the locals enjoy this auspicious Mochi that is said to have driven away a demon, and to wish for the well-being of their family members.
The Okinawans still cherish such old and wonderful customs.
I think it’s important to pass down such traditions.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Reina Chinen (0173)