Thursday, May 5, 2011

Boy's Day

On March 3rd I wrote about girl's day and made some sexist hilarious comments about the Japanese getting it right.  For girl's day, you may recall that someone brought in brownies and fortune cookies to work.  Well, today is BOY'S DAY!  Let me just say, I didn't even know there was a boy's day until I walked into the kitchen.  Again, it seems the Japanese got this one right.  We didn't just get brownies.  Oh no.  The judicial assistants all brought in food for "their boys."  That's right, there are 3 boxes of manapua.  There is a big box of peanut butter crackers.  There is a massive tray of Lumpia (egg rolls).  There is a big bag of bagels with three types of cream cheese spreads.  It's like I died and went to my triathlon training hell!  Anyway, everyone has been in the kitchen all morning snacking on delicious food and hanging out.  As you can imagine, little work is being done.

So what is boy's day?  Good question.  May brings the reminder that in Japan, as in the United States, one of a nation's greatest assets is her children. May 5 is "Children's Day" in Japan, the day to stress the importance of respecting the character of children and promoting their health and happiness. It is also the day for children to express their gratitude for the tender love and care they receive from their parents. On this day Japanese families celebrate Tango-no-Sekku, the Boys' Festival. With its special customs and observances, it is Japan's way of celebrating the healthy growth and development of her young boys.

A carp-like streamer (yes, like the fish) is flown outside your home for each son in the family, a very large one for the eldest, the others ranging down in size.  The carp has become the symbol of the Boys' Festival because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish, so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. The carp is an appropriate symbol to encourage manliness and the overcoming of life's difficulties leading to consequent success.

Girls are the guests of their brothers on this occasion just as boys are guests of their sisters on the occasion of the Girls' Festival on March 3. Their parents provide them with the traditional delicacies such as Chimaki (sweet rice dumplings wrapped in iris or bamboo leaves) and Kashiwa-Mochi (rice cakes containing sweet bean paste wrapped in oak leaves).

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