Tango no Sekku is celebrated on May 5th. In Japan, this day is called Boys’ Festival. It’s been celebrated for over a millennium. Originally it was celebrated in the houses of warriors. It celebrated boys’ courage and determination. Many of the symbols of this day are about having the character of a warrior. Eventually this day became important to all households in Japan with boys.
After WWII, Boys’ Day became toned down. This holiday officially became known as Children’s Day or Kodomo no hi. It’s supposed to be a day to celebrate the health and happiness of all children. But many people still see it as Boys’ Festival.
Large carp windsocks, called koinobori, are displayed outside houses of families with boys. There’s one windsock for each boy in the house. The largest windsock is for the oldest son of the house.
The carp is a symbol of Tango no Sekku, because carp are considered strong and determined. They’re able to swim upstream against the flow of the water. This is a day for families to celebrate their sons’ strength and character.
Warrior dolls and helmets, armor and swords are also displayed in houses with boys.
The symbolic flower of Tango no Sekku is a type of iris called shobu. The shobu has long leaves that resemble swords. Boys traditionally take shobu leaf baths on this day. The shobu is so important on this day that sometimes the festival is called Shobu no Sekku or Iris Festival.
One traditional food eaten on this day is kashiwa mochi. It’s a rice cake steamed with sweet beans and wrapped in an oak leaf. Another traditional food is chimaki, which is rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Here’s a traditional song for Tango no Sekku called Koinoburi or Carp Windsocks…
Yane yori takai koinobori.
Okii magoi wa otoosan.
Chisai higoi wa kodomotachi.
Omoshiro soni oyideru.
Carp windsocks are above the roof.
The biggest carp is the father,
The smaller carp are children,
They’re enjoying swimming in the sky.
I welcome any midis or mp3’s of Koinobori, the Japanese text and also any comments about the traditions of this day.
Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Japan Page for more Songs from Japan!
This article was posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006 at 4:14 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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