Smile Politely

Children’s Day is happening at Japan House this weekend

If you have kids ages 6-12, bring them out to Japan House on Saturday, May 7th for Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day. This is a national holiday in Japan, and likely originated in China as early as 839. Here’s a little history, from the Facebook event:

Children’s Day is traditionally celebrated on May 5. Originally called Boy’s Day or the Iris Festival, it became a national holiday in 1948. Although it is technically for both boys and girls, most families still privately consider it a special day for their sons. The festival may have originated in China around the year 839, when people hung medicinal herbs from the roof to repel disease. In Japan, irises (shobu) were displayed instead as they were believed to repel evil spirits. An ancient custom still practiced in some parts of Japan involves bathing in water filled with iris petals, since they are believed to give strength.

The warrior class further developed the custom in the 12th century. Shobu also means victory or defeat, which may explain the practice of giving little boys kites with pictures of warriors. In the Edo period (1600-1868), painted cloth or paper carp streamers (koinobori) began to be flown in honor of the day. According to an old Chinese fable, carp symbolize strength and worldly success because of all the fish, only the carp could swim upstream, fighting through rapids and waterfalls, to become a dragon in the end. The fish representing the oldest boy is the largest and hangs from the top of the bamboo pole. Younger sons carp are smaller and are hung lower on the pole. The custom of displaying samurai helmets (kabuto) and armor in the hope that the boys will grow up strong and brave also dates to that period.

Kids will have the opportunity to do origami, ikebana, and kakudako (kite) decorating, and will receive a goody bag with treats to bring home.

Space is limited, so sign up soon. It’s $20 per child, and all materials will be provided.

Top photo from Japan House Facebook page.

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