Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tanabata- Wish Upon a Star

Tanabata is the 7th day of the 7th month. I like to think of it as the "Wish Upon a Star" Festival.

Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess?), daughter of the Tentei (天帝 Sky King, or the universe itself?), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (天の川 Milky Way, lit. "heavenly river"?). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone.

Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星 Cow Herder Star?) (also referred to as Kengyuu (牽牛?)) who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven.

In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard and finished her weaving.

The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.

From Wikipedia.


For Tanabata, you write your wish on a strip of paper and tie it to a Wish Tree. I'm not entirely who's supposed to grant it.

At tiny elementary school we had a Tanabata party. All the kids and a few parents and grandparents gathered in the gym durring 4th period. The students put on a play telling the story of Tanabata. Then we all read our wishes out loud. (I kinna felt bad because the other teachers' wishes were like "I want to make this school the best it can be," and mine was, "I want to write books for children.")

Then we had a quiz with 3 student teams, a parents team and a teachers team and random star/Tanabata questions. The teachers came second! Woo Hoo! The parent's came last. lol. I got two questions right for the team :)

After the parents had gone home, we had a picnic style lunch in the gym. There was a star-shaped croquette and star-filled jello.

The biggest Tanabata festival in Japan is in Sendai. (One of the questions I got right- I even wrote the correct kanji!) There are a few others around the archipelago as well.

Tanabata is my favourite "holiday" that we don't actually get a day off for. It's the holiday I really identify with. I kind of feel like if Disney had to sponsor a holiday this would be it. (And y'all know how I love all things Disney and Fairy Tale.)

No comments: