The new year (Shogatsu) is the most important annual festival. Families gather together and greet each other. We eat mochi and Osechi Ryori, which is traditional Japanese food. Hatsuyume is the dream we have January 1st. If we see Mt. Fuji, eagles, and eggplants in dreams, we will have a good luck during a whole year.
Setsubun means seasonal divison. We throw beens outside and say â€œOni ha Soto, Fuku ha Uchi! (Demons out, Luck in!)â€? We call it Mamemaki (Throwing beens.) The purpose of doing this is to purify the house. After that we eat beens as many beans as our age.
Girls day is held on March 3rd.We display dolls (Hina Ningyo) and eat hinaarare, bite-sized crackers flavored with sugar or soy sauce, and hishimochi, a diamond-shaped colored rice cake. The customary drink for the festival is amazake, a sake made from fermented rice and a non-alcohol drink.
April is the beginnig of a new semester. In the United States, mostly a new semester starts in September, but a new semerter begins in April in Japan. Every new thing starts in April in Japan such as entrance ceremony, new semester. We like to think that cherry blossom is the flower for entrance ceremony, but at that time, cherry blossoms are already gone. Also in March, we have graduation ceremony and it is
beautiful if we display cherry blossoms, but at that time cherry blossoms are still budding. Therefore, we put the cherry blossom branch in a warm room and make it broom at the day of the graduation.
Koinobori means â€œcarp streamer,â€? and we display them in May, in honor of sons and in the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong. This is a Koinobori Song: Higher than the roof-tops are the koinobori The large Carp is the father The smaller Carp are the children They seem to be having fun swimming.
Tsuyu is the rainy season in Japan. It is during June and rain lasts almost all day for a whole month. This rain isnâ€™t usually strong but it lasts all day. The Frogs and snails come out to play.
Tanabata is July 7th. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Summer Festival is held in August. We have many kinds of food carts and toy carts. Cotton candy, crepe, yo-yo, and goldfish scooping are the most popular food and games. We do bon dance. It is traditional festival dance in Japan. We watch fireworks at the end.
Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. We just enjoy the full moon and eath Tsukimi Dango (white rice dumplings.)
All schools have Undokai (Sports day) in October. We often have society sports day, too. Each child enters into an event and practices for their event Running is the most common competition in Undokai.
Shichi-go-san is an event that we celebrate seven, five, three years old. We celebrate three and five years old for boys and three and seven years old for girls. We pray for their longevity and visit temple or shrine on November 15th. Chitose Ame literally â€œthousand year candyâ€? is given to children on the day. Chitose Ame is long, thin, red and white candy, which symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. Chitose Ame is wrapped in a thin, clear, and edible rice paper film that resembles plastic.
Chirstmas was not a big event several years ago. It is popular now, but the style is a little different from United States. Japanese people spend time with couples in Christmas, not with families. Most people eat a big meal on Christmas Eve. Christmas cake is popular to eat on that day.