Monday, May 5, 2008

Children's Day (Kodomo no hi)

Before world war 2 this day was a festival for boys. It is now a national holiday in honor of all children both boys and girls. Since it was a day for boys it still is mostly for boy's (girls day was/is in March 3). The Boy's Festival (Tango no Sekku) is celebrated on this day. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life. Traditional foods for this day are chimaki (rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves) and kashiwa-mochi (rice cake wrapped in oak leaves -oak leaves symbolize not withering but are not edible so don't eat the leaf). Before world war 2 this day was also called Shobu no Sekku (Iris Festival). The reason for that is because it is the time of year in which Japanese Irises are at their best. Japanese iris leaves are/were used to decorate roofs and put into hot baths as a charm against evil spirits and disease.

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