Did You Know The Japanese Honor Nature Throughout The Year on National Holidays?
Public holidays as I know them usually honor some important date as a critical movement or day of remembrance in the nation's history, someone in the hierarchy's birthday or something materialistic. What I find beautiful is that the Japanese have several public holidays throughout the year dedicated to the connection and honoring of nature and the ancestors. The following are a couple of Japan's national public holidays.
*The Vernal Equinox Day occurs at the Spring equinox when Winter changes to Spring. It represents the turning of the seasons where the days have equal light and darkness. It celebrates the love of nature and all living things, the cherry blossoms are the 'cherry' on top of the change to Spring as the Earth begins to awaken. It's now a secular holiday however began as a remembrance day for past Emperors of Japan and some families still spend the day visiting graves of loved ones.
*Greenery Day began as a day in between two holidays but is now an official public holiday. It began as a celebration of the birth of the Emperor, after his death the holiday was changed to honor his love for plants and nature and the name became Greenery Day. This day also ends a week of holidays called golden week.
*Mountain Day is Japan's newest holiday and was put into place as a time to appreciate and have “opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains". As Japan is highly mountainous it is popular to hike and climb mountains regularly.
*Marine Day is a day to honor the gifts of the sea. There are no traditional ceremonies involved with this day, it is to celebrate the ocean's importance to the Island country and to pray for a prosperous maritime season ahead. People spend this day getting out in the sunshine, at the beach, aquariums and lakes paying homage. Mud balls filled with micro organisms being thrown into the ocean is becoming a popular way to celebrate this day.
*Respect for the Aged Day is celebrated as a day to give thanks for the elders and to recognize their contributions to society. People throw parties and celebrate longevity, give hampers and deliver free lunches to the elderly. Communities and schools put on performances and everyone is encouraged to call or spend time with elderly relatives.
Japanese culture tends to depict a compassion and appreciation of all living things. This is notable through many of their public holidays showing gratitude for nature and the ancestors that came before. This culture creates a community based in love and gratitude for each other and their surroundings. Having days free to spend honoring these aspects allows the nation to immerse in the experiences.