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Japanese Children’s Day = Mother’s Day?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNeLgJePx2w]

by Reiko Nishioka, Director of Education

When you are young, you don’t pay attention to the meaning of holidays; you are just happy to have the day off from school. On May 5th, the Japanese celebrate a national holiday called Children’s Day.  I do not remember what we did for the celebration because May 5th is Tango no settku translated as Boy’s Day.  If you are in Japan, you will see colorful koinobori (carp kites) hoisted outdoors of the homes of families who have male children. I have a sister, no brothers, so we did not decorate anything in the house or outdoors!

If we celebrate only Boy’s Day it is not fair. We girls wanted to celebrate like boys!

Yes, we celebrated on March 3rd and the celebration was called Momo no sekku known as Girls Day however, IT IS NOT A NATIONAL HOLIDAY.

In 1948, the Japanese government established Japanese national holidays. In this law, Children’s Day is set aside to respect children’s individuality and to celebrate their happiness on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month.  

Some say that having Boy’s Day as a national holiday, but not having a national Girls’ Day is discrimination.  My amazement is that the national holiday law said “Children’s Day is set aside to respect children’s individuality and to celebrate their happiness and gratitude to their mother.”

I checked further as to why law-makers made the holiday on May 5th not March 3rd or some other day.  The answer is that the weather is still too cold on March 3rd to celebrate outdoors in northern Japan.

I do not think many Japanese people know that Children’s Day is also a celebration of Mother’s Day.  Well, I think every day is mother’s, father’s and children’s day.  Have I covered everyone?

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