Every country has bizarre and interesting traditions. One such interesting country is Japan. Japan has a special festival dedicated to birthdays. It is called the ‘Shichi-Go-San’ festival. It literally translates to Seven-Five-Three. Celebrations of this day are especially for all children turning the age of three, five and seven.
‘Shichi-Go-San’ festival had originated in the Heian Period. It was initiated by court nobles. Majority of Asian culture is influence by Hinduism and in Hinduism odd prime numbers are considered lucky. Hence these ages hold great value in a child’s life. Also this phase is a transition of child from toddler age to a more mature and understanding age.
This festival is held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of children. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend. In olden days boys of age five would start wearing Hakama for the first time on this day, while girls of age seven replaced the simple cords they used to tie their Kimono with the traditional Obi.
In modern times people don’t usually wear the lavish traditional clothing except for festivals. Thus these children wear kimonos, mostly for the first time and visit shrines with their families. They all pray for the children’s long and healthy life. Three-year-old girls usually wear Hifu which is a simple and kid version of kimono. Although some families prefer to dress in western formals, it is quite a heartwarming view to watch so many children dressed in their best as well as feeling their best.
In some families the traditional way of calculating age called Kazoedoshi is followed to estimate which child is eligible to celebrate Shichi-Go-San. In this system children are one year old at birth and gain a year on each Lunar New Year.
Kids are treated with Chitose Ame which literally means “thousand year candy”. It is long, thin, red and white candy. It symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. The candy is wrapped in a thin, clear, and edible rice paper and the bag in which it is given is decorated with a crane and turtle, representing long life in Japanese culture. So here’s our team of JTTJ wishing you all a Happy Shichi-Go-San! May every child live a long and blessed life.