What is Kodomo no Hi?
What is Kodomo no Hi?
Right after Hina Matsuri the next special event that takes place is Kodomo no Hi which takes place during Golden Week. Kodomo no Hi is Children’s day and it is a day when people celebrate all children. In preparation for this day you will see colourful carp shaped flags hanging from balconies. Children’s day takes place on May 5th and originally May 5th was known as Tango no sekku which is the Japanese equivalent of the Double Fifth. Which for those of you who don’t know what the Double Fifth is it is a holiday that is celebrated by Chinese people. In 1948, the government officially changed the Tango no sekku to Kodomo no hi. And although it is known as Children’s day now most Japanese people still consider kodomo no hi to be the double fifth so in other words they consider it as Boy’s Day. This does seem fair as girls already get girl’s day which is Hina Matsuri. Although the hina matsuri is not a public holiday.
So how do people celebrate Kodomo no Hi? Families that have a son will decorate the outside of their homes with carp flags of various colors and a lot of public places will do so too. The carps are a symbol of this holiday. According to an old Chinese legend, a mixed school of fish tried to get their way up a waterfall called Ryumon, also known as the dragon gate. While the other fish gave up and drifted down the stream the carps were persistent. When they finally were able to get through to the Dragon Gate they were transformed into dragons. There are obviously different versions of the old tale but in the Japanese version this became known as koi no taki-nobori which was then shortened to koinobori which is the modern name for the carp flags.
The different colored carp flags also have a meaning. The black which is usually the largest of them all represents the father also known as the magoi. The red carp flag is the mother that is also known as the higoi. The blue carp flag represents the child, usually the son, and other additional colors are usually added to represent the other younger siblings.
The other thing that people do on this day is they decorate their homes with a samurai armour and miniature helmets to represent their wish to raise a strong and powerful boy. Of course not all families have a samurai armour so instead they may just make miniature helmets out of origami.
And just like on the Hina Matsuri there are certain special foods that are served on this day. And usually families will serve chimaki which is a rice cake made out of steamed sticky rice wrapped in a bamboo leaf. The other food that is served on this day is a Japanese sweet, or in Japanese Wagashi. The wagashi that is served is usually a rice cake wrapped in a leaf.
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