May 5th is a special day in Japan where children are honored and respected for their individual personalities while wishing happiness upon them. Join us in celebrating Children's Day with these cultural activities.
The Origin of Children’s Day
Children’s Day came from China where, a long time ago, an epidemic hit in May and many lives were lost. After the epidemic, people started to hang irises in front of their houses to ward off evil, and drink alcohol with iris leaves to cleanse the body.
both had the same sound, so samurai families started to view irises as good luck. Eventually, Children’s Day evolved into a day when people wish for boys to grow strong.
, bathwater with iris leaves）
Irises are a medicinal herb believed since ancient times to keep evil away. Children’s Day takes place when the seasons change, so it was common practice for people to bathe in bathwater with iris leaves to boost their immune systems.
, carp streamer）
The carp is a tough fish that can survive not only in clear water but also in ponds and swamps. People put up carp streamers in hope that their children will grow as strong as a carp, and to let the spirits know that they have boys who need protection.
, rice cake wrapped in oak leaves）
Oak trees don’t shed their old leaves until sprouts come out. Therefore, people associated oak leaves with perpetuation of descendants and started to eat rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves on Children’s Day.
Follow JSB's language instructor, Naoko Takayanagi
in making carp and kabuto origami.