Labour Thanksgiving Day Celebrations in Japan

Celebrating Labour Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Labour Thanksgiving Day is an annual national holiday in Japan, celebrated on November 23rd. The day is dedicated to celebrating workers and production and is a national holiday incorporated in Japan’s Happy Monday System, which means that if the 23rd falls on a Sunday, it is celebrated the following Monday, allowing workers to have a long weekend. Another example of a Happy Monday is Respect for the Aged Day, which is always celebrated on the third Monday of September. Most businesses remain open on Labour Thanksgiving Day, but government services are closed.

History of Labour Thanksgiving Day

This day was originally known as Niinamesai, which was the ritual of Harvest Festival. This had a much different meaning to that of Labour Thanksgiving Day today. The celebration started centuries ago, with ancient chronicles stating that Niinamesai started in November 678. When the holiday first began, it was in celebration of the fall harvest alongside the harvest ritual carried out by the Japanese emperor and the Royal Court. It wasn’t until after World War II that Niinamesai was re-established as Labour Thanksgiving Day. The meaning of the day altered to recognise and mark the changes of the post-war constitution in Japan, when Japan changed from an agrarian nation (with its economy based in farming and agriculture) to an industrial one. The new constitution included changes to fundamental human rights and developments in workers’ rights, replacing the Meiji Constitution. It made sense to make this change from a harvest focus to a labour one as most of Japan’s citizens were now workers instead of farmers. Labor Thanksgiving Day Celebrations in Japan

Labour Thanksgiving Day Celebrations

Special events are held in celebration of this day across Japan. One of the largest events is the Nagano Labour Festival which celebrates the environment, peace, and human rights. Nagano hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1998 and has continued to be host to one of the biggest events on Labour Thanksgiving Day. This festival is sponsored by labour organisations that encourage citizens to think about issues affecting them and their community. Many school pupils participate in celebrations by giving thanks to workers in their community. This is often giving thanks to police officers, firemen, hospital staff and other service workers, for looking after the community on a daily basis. One widely-observed Japanese tradition is that children in elementary school make small gifts or cards and present them to these service workers to thank them. Many Japanese citizens use this national holiday to connect with close family and friends, enjoying good food and company. These gatherings tend to involve discussions about accomplishments throughout the year, and goals they have for the future. Nagano Ebisuko Fireworks Festival coincides with Labour Thanksgiving Day, and marks the end of the Ebisuko Festival. This fireworks festival is thought to be one of Japan’s most beautiful autumn firework displays. Over 400,000 people gather to watch the impressive display, and many incorporate the festival into their Labour Thanksgiving Day celebrations.   If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese culture and festivals, please see the rest of our blog. If you would like to celebrate Japanese craftsmanship from home, why not have a look at our range of quality Japanese gifts, including tableware, kimono and incense?
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