Tanabata ( 七夕- meaning "Evening of the seventh") Festival
Tanabata ( 七夕) is the Japanese star festival which originated from Chinese folklore, The Princess and Cowherd. It is a festival to celebrate the meeting of two stars along side of the Milky Way in the sky, which are Vega and Alter and are representative of the Weaving Princess and the Cowherd.
Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess, the star Vega) was very good at weaving beautiful clothes, so that her father, Tentei ( 天帝Sky Emperor), loved see her weaving clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (天の川Heavenly river, Milky Way). When Orihime met Hikoboshi ( 彦星 or referred as Kengyu 牽牛, Cow Herder, the star Alter) who lived the other side of Amanogawa, they instantly fell in love, and married. However, they played with each other rather than working together, so that Orihime no longer weaved clothes and Hikoboshi did not look after his cows. Tentei could not stand the couple and he separated them by the Amanogawa. Orihime begged him to let her meet Hikoboshi. At last, Tentei allowed them to meet up on the 7th
day of the 7th
month if Orihime worked hard to weave clothes.
How Tanabata is Celebrated
As tradition, people make wishes and write it onto a piece of paper named Tanzaku and decorate a bamboo tree with Tanzaku and other paper ornaments, which are made in many different shapes such as a bag for wealth and a net for good luck.
The most popular date of Tanabata is 7th July, however, the festival is held on 7th August in some places in accordance with lunar calendar. Under the Gregorian Calendar, the festival will be held on different days in August depending on a year.
The famous places in Japan for the Tanabata festival are Hiratsuka and Sendai in July and August respectively.
People in Japan celebrate this Star Festival by making a wish and writing it onto a piece of origami paper known as Tanzaku and then attaching them to bamboo trees. Origami paper crane birds and other paper ornaments in different shapes are also part of the decoration.
Paper Crane (折り鶴; Orizuru) : Family safety, health, and long life.
Paper strips (短冊; Tanzaku) : Wishes for good handwriting and studies.
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