What is Shichi-Go-San?
Shichi-Go-San is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three-and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children. It is usually celebrated on the nearest weekend, as it is not a national holiday.
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 holds that odd numbers are lucky.
It is thought to have emerged as a way to mark important milestones in a child’s development, because in the past people often lost their children due to poor health conditions.
Over time, this tradition passed to the samurai class who added several 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.
In modern society, the custom is largely observed as a way to give thanks for a child’s health and happiness.
On the day, a purification rite and the reciting of a Shinto prayer are performed with most girls wearing kimonos when making their Shichi-go-san visit, while boys come in haori and hakama.
There is also a custom of giving candy, that started in the Edo period. The long sticks of stretched sweet candy called chitose ame represent a wish for long life. The children are given the number of sweets to match their age — three sticks of candy for a three-year-old, and so on. The candy sticks are put inside a plastic bag and usually given to the child by the parents, grandparents or neighbors.
It is given in a bag decorated with a crane and a turtle, which represent long life in Japan; and the words written on the bags containing the sweets will be to wish a long life.
But these days, kids aren’t the only ones getting treats. It has become more common for mothers to exchange gifts as well, as a thank you for watching over their children.
Gift to thank those who take care of your children!
Why not give a gift to thank those who take care you of your children?
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