Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日 Kinrō kansha no hi) is a national holiday in Japan. It takes place annually on November 23. The law establishing the holiday cites it as an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks.
Events are held throughout Japan, one such being the Nagano Labor Festival. The event encourages thinking about the environment, peace and human rights.
It is not unusual for early grade elementary students to create drawings for the holiday and give them as gifts to local kōbans, or police stations. Labor Thanksgiving Day is the modern name for an ancient cereal (rice, barley/wheat, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, proso millet, and beans) harvest festival known as Niiname-sai (新嘗祭), believed to have been held as long ago as November of 678. Traditionally, it celebrated the year’s hard work; during the Niiname-sai ceremony, the Emperor would dedicate the year’s harvest to kami (spirits), and taste the rice for the first time.
The modern holiday was established after World War II in 1948 as a day to mark some of the changes of the postwar constitution of Japan, including fundamental human rights and the expansion of workers rights. Currently Niiname-sai is held privately by the Imperial House of Japan while Labor Thanksgiving Day has become a national holiday.
Shichi-Go-San is a Japanese festival held on 15 November to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend.
Shichi-Go-San is said to have originated in the Heian Period amongst court nobles who would celebrate the passage of their children into middle childhood. The ages 3, 5 and 7 are consistent with East Asian numerology, which claims that odd numbers are lucky. The practice was set to the fifteenth of the month during the Kamakura Period.
Over time, this tradition passed to the samurai class who added a number of rituals. Children—who up until the age of three were required by custom to have shaven heads—were allowed to grow out their hair. Boys of age five could wear hakama for the first time, while girls of age seven replaced the simple cords they used to tie their kimono with the traditional obi. By the Meiji Period, the practice was adopted amongst commoners as well, and included the modern ritual of visiting a shrine to drive out evil spirits and wish for a long healthy life.
Veterans Day is an official United States holiday honoring armed service veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11th. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)
Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.
Culture Day (文化の日 Bunka no hi) is a national holiday held annually in Japan on November 3 for the purpose of promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavor. Festivities typically include art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars. It was first held in 1948, to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946.
Culture Day was first held in 1948, to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946.
November 3 was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1868, when it was called Tenchō-setsu (天長節), a holiday held in honor of the birthday of the reigning emperor—at that time, the Meiji Emperor. (See also The Emperor’s Birthday.) With the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912, November 3 ceased to be a holiday until 1927, when his birthday was given its own specific holiday, known as Meiji-setsu (明治節). As Meiji-setsu was discontinued with the announcement of Culture Day in 1948, some see Culture Day as a continuation of this tradition as well—a mere renaming of Meiji-setsu—although they are ostensibly unrelated.
Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday. The event is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in Latin America, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad, Fiesta Nacional in Spain, Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various areas since the early 20th century.
Celebrated the second Monday of October in the United States. Actual observance varies in different parts of the country, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though many mark it as a “Day of Observance” or “Recognition” and three do not recognize it at all. Most states (including states where it’s not a legal holiday) close schools and other state services, while others operate as normal.
Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota are the three states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all, though Hawaii and South Dakota mark the day with an alternative holiday or observance. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii on the same date, the second Monday of October, though the name change has not ended protest related to the observance of Columbus’ discovery. The state government does not treat either Columbus Day or Discoverers’ Day as a legal holiday; state, city and county government offices and schools are open for business. South Dakota celebrates the day as an official state holiday known as “Native American Day” rather than Columbus Day. Nevada does not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday; however, the governor is “authorized and requested” by statute to proclaim the day each year. This probably has less to do with any objection to the celebration of the day than the fact that it is relatively close to Nevada Day, and schools and banks can only be closed for so many days.
Autumnal Equinox Day (秋分の日 Shūbun no Hi) is a public holiday in Japan that usually occurs on September 22 or 23, the date of Southward equinox in Japan Standard Time (autumnal equinox can occur on different dates for different timezones). Due to the necessity of recent astronomical measurements, the date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year. Autumnal Equinox Day became a public holiday on 1948. In 1947 and before, it was the date of Shūki kōreisai ( 秋季皇霊祭), an event relating to Shintoism. Like other holidays, this holiday was repackaged as a non-religious holiday for the sake of separation of religion and state in Japan’s postwar constitution.
Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日 Keirō no Hi?) is a Japanese holiday celebrated annually to honor elderly citizens. It started in 1966 as a national holiday and was held on every September 15. After 2003, the Respect for the Aged Day is held on the 3rd Monday of September due to the Happy Monday System.
This national holiday traces its origins to 1947, when Nomadani-mura (later Yachiyo-cho, currently Taka-cho), Hyōgo Prefecture proclaimed September 15 Old Folks’ Day (Toshiyori no Hi). Its popularity spread nationwide, and in 1966 it took its present name and status. Annually, Japanese media take the opportunity to feature the elderly, reporting on the population and highlighting the oldest people in the country.
Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada.
In Japan, the summer vacation generally lasts from late July to early September, and due to the way education in Japan is structured, it takes place within a school year.
Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however its starting date varies within different regions of Japan. When the lunar calendar was changed to the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, the localities in Japan reacted differently and this resulted in three different times of Obon. “Shichigatsu Bon” (Bon in July) is based on the solar calendar and is celebrated around 15 July in eastern Japan (Kantō region such as Tokyo, Yokohama and the Tohoku region), coinciding with Chūgen. “Hachigatsu Bon” (Bon in August) is based on the lunar calendar, is celebrated around the 15th of August and is the most commonly celebrated time. “Kyu Bon” (Old Bon) is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and so differs each year. “Kyu Bon” is celebrated in areas like the northern part of the Kantō region, Chūgoku region, Shikoku, and the Ryukyu Islands. These three days are not listed as public holidays but it is customary that people are given leave.