Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi) is a Japanese national holiday which takes place every year on May 5 and is the final celebration in Golden Week. It is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It was declared a national holiday by the Japanese government in 1948.
The day was originally called Tango no sekku – one of the five annual ceremonies held at the imperial court – and was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the Chinese calendar. “Tan” means beginning, “go” means horse, and “sekku” means seasonal festival. The literal meaning of Tango no sekku is “the start of the horse seasonal festival”, corresponding to the Chinese Zodiac’s 5th month. After Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar, the date was moved to May 5. It was originally exclusively male celebrating boys and recognizing fathers (Boys Day), while Hinamatsuri (March 3) was a day recognized celebrating girls. However, it has since been changed to include both male and female children, as well as recognizing mothers along with fathers and family qualities of unity.
On this day, families raise the koinobori, which are carp-shaped windsocks (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon and flies to Heaven, and the way the windsock blow in the wind looks like they are swimming), with a black carp for the father, a red or pink for the mother, and one carp (usually blue, and sometimes additionally green and orange) for each child. Traditionally, when celebrated as Boys Day, the red koinobori was for the eldest son with blue and additional colors for younger brothers. Families may also display a samurai doll, sometimes riding on a large carp (often representing the Japanese folk heroes Kintarō or Momotarō), and/or the traditional Japanese military helmet, kabuto, due to their tradition as symbols of strength and vitality. Kashiwa-mochi (sticky rice cakes filled with red bean jam and wrapped in oak leaves) and chimaki (sticky sweet rice wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf) are traditionally served on this day.
- Kerry Ichimasa, Asst. Wine Director