Today is the seventh day of the seventh month, which means it is Tanabata in Japan.
This sweet holiday celebrates the one day a year when two star-crossed lovers in space are allowed to be together. The legend goes that Orihime (a weaver) and Hikoboshi (a cow herder) fell in love in the Milky Way. Their love was so deep that they could do nothing else but sing lovey-dovey songs together all day. Eventually the king had to separate them so they could get some work done. Now they are only allowed to be together this one day every year.
In Japan Tanabata is celebrated by writing wishes on strips of origami paper and trying them to bamboo and gathering for a special meal. It is a day to celebrate wishes, stars and love.
We are celebrating by making a star craft and a Japanese flag. We will also write wishes on origami paper and eat Japanese food for dinner. Lunch was star-shaped sandwiches, star pineapple and star cheese. Later, we will visit a nearby Japanese garden which is celebrating Tanabata for an entire week. Our bedtime story will the full story of Tanabata from our Japanese children’s book.
I love holidays and find them to be an incredible way to teach children about other cultures. Next week celebrates Bastille Day and we will learn all about France. Celebrating three countries back-to-back is a perfect prelude to the Summer Olympics next month. Max and Jack are trying to understand where all of these places exist in the world. This morning Max pointed to a map of the United States and told me Japan was not there. Then he pointed to his solar system placemat and told me we could find Japan there. Somehow his little brain is discovering time and space and place. What a thrill to have a front row seat to this process.
Tanabata is such a tender holiday and it captured my heart as soon as I learned about it. The year I spent in Japan is a year that is often locked away in my memories. It was a solitary experience and not much triggers random thoughts of Nishiumi-cho to spring to mind. Motherhood has made me open my old photo albums and with that the key to so many long lost memories. I didn’t expect my year in Japan to have made such a profound impact in my life.
But it did.
But it does.