Sunday, May 5, 2013

Children's Day - No Girls Allowed

Koinobori - 'flying carp'
Today, May 5th, is Children’s Day (子供の日) in Japan. Traditionally known as Tango no Sekku (端午の節句, loosely translated as ‘Yay we had a boy’), Children’s Day is a time for families to pray that their sons be blessed with health, happiness and good English skills.
On this day in Japan huge colorful streamers called koinobori (鯉のぼり, or flying carp) can be seen all over, in front of people’s homes and in many public places. While the carp is said to represent strength and success – in what capacity history has yet to specify – the actual underlying reason people fly these long, brightly-colored fish is to remind anyone who might have forgotten that today is Children’s Day so don’t forget to pray for your son’s strength and success in conjugating his English verbs.

Interestingly, Children’s Day is customarily dedicated to boys. One theory is that girls have an innate capacity for linguistics and don’t need any more help in outdistancing their male counterparts in conversation class. The true reason, of course, is that girls don’t like carp. To compensate, rather than upset the Wa (), a special day for girls was created: Hina no Matsuri (雛の祭り, the Doll Festival, which I did not write about because I don’t like dolls).

Find out more about Children’s Day here. I’d go on but it is May 5th and I am taking my family to – of course – a Tulip Festival.

Happy Children’s Day, boys. (And remember, drink, drank, drunk.)