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.
Health and Sports Day (体育の日 Taiiku no hi), also known as Health-Sports Day or Sports Day, is a national holiday in Japan held annually on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo, and exists to promote sports and an active lifestyle. Many schools and businesses choose this day to hold their annual Field Day (運動会 Undō-kai), or sports day. This typically consists of a range of physical events ranging from more traditional track-and-field events such as the 100 meters or 4 x 100 meters relay to more uncommon events such as the tug of war and the Mock Cavalry Battle (騎馬戦 Kiba-sen).
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.
The day was known as Marine Memorial Day (海の記念日 umi no kinen bi) until 1996. Communications Minister Shozo Murata designated the holiday in 1942 to commemorate the Meiji Emperor and his 1876 voyage in the Meiji-Maru, an iron steamship constructed in England in 1874. The voyage included a trip around the Ou district, embarking on a lighthouse boat in Aomori, and a brief stop in Hakodate before returning to Yokohama on July 20 of that year. “Marine Day” was declared a national holiday in 1995 as a day of gratitude for the blessings of the oceans and to hope for the economic prosperity of maritime Japan.
First observed on July 20, 1996, the Happy Monday System (ハッピーマンデー制度 Happī Mandē Seido) legislation moved the date from July 20 to the third Monday of July from 2003.
Tanabata (七夕, meaning “Evening of the seventh”) is a Japanese star festival, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is held at various days between July and August.