Japanese Tradition

Holidays borrowed from others.

did the Japanese borrow holidays from other nations?

Japanese traditions, both in ancient times and today, are constantly updated by including elements from beliefs, rituals, rites, ceremonies related to the cultures of other peoples.
The Japanese aristocracy borrowed many holidays from the Chinese, which then organically entered the life of the people, for example, New Year, Boys ‘Day, Girls’ Day, Tanabata.
Holidays dedicated to children are very interesting. For example, the holiday “7-5-3”, which is celebrated annually on November 15. On this day, three-year-olds, five-year-olds and seven-year-olds are dressed in bright festive kimonos, little Japanese women are given old high hairstyles, and their cheeks are reddened. Parents and relatives give children lollipops in the shape of arrows, which symbolize a long and happy life.
And on March 3, Japanese girls have their own holiday. In every house, even the poorest, a special small chest of drawers is installed-a ladder in the festive corner. On each step of this ladder, dolls are built, reproducing in miniature the imperial house of the Heian era (9th-11th century). On this day, every mother tries to cook especially delicious dishes, often her little daughters help her, because it is to them that the long-awaited guests should come.
The appearance of dolls, miniature dishes displayed in front of them, tiny images of old furniture has not changed for more than 300 years, but the history of this unusual holiday goes even further-back to the ancient custom of the purification rite, when every year on March 3 all the diseases and ailments of the body were symbolically transferred to small paper figures, which were then thrown into the river. Gradually, these paper figures turned into more and more skillfully made dolls, which served as the birth, and then the prosperity of the famous craft of professional puppeteers in Japan.
The Japanese are willing to use objects of material culture of other peoples. It is known that mobile chariot platforms are decorated not only with purely Japanese objects, but also with Flemish tapestries of the 16th century, depicting Teutonic knights and their ladies, as well as Chinese and Persian silks. This is done in order to give the procession even more color and splendor.
These days, various elements of American shows are often inserted into traditional holidays. For example, during the ancient Tanabata festival, “Miss Tanabata” is chosen, photo contests take place, etc.
Currently, in Japan, the celebration of Christmas has become widespread with its constant companions — a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, candles, etc.Throughout the New Year’s week, Japanese people give each other gifts and go to visit. Who knows, perhaps, after some time, Christmas will take root in their everyday life as a stable element of Japanese spiritual culture.
One of the most striking borrowed holidays is the New Year. For the Japanese, this is not just a holiday, but a common birthday for the entire nation. On New Year’s Eve, the bell is struck 108 times, and its last stroke adds 1 year to all ages at once. It is surprising that a baby born on December 31, the next morning is already considered a one-year-old. According to tradition, each of the one hundred and eight strokes of the bronze bell expels one of the one hundred and eight evils that darken a person’s life.
At midnight, a person not only becomes a year older, but also, according to legend, receives a completely different fate, filled with new opportunities, where there is no place for bitterness and misfortune. During the New Year holidays, the Japanese decorate the doors of their homes with branches of plum, pine and bamboo. The evergreen pine is a symbol of longevity for the Japanese, the slender bamboo represents resilience, and the plum blossoming in the middle of winter — the ability to enjoy life in all its manifestations and not bow down in the face of adversity.
These wishes are common to all the people, but each Japanese person adds to them their own personal hopes. That’s why on the eve of the holiday, there is a brisk trade in pictures with the view of a mythical sailboat all over Japan. Such a picture is supposed to be put under the pillow on New Year’s Eve to see a dream that portends good luck: the seven gods of happiness are sailing on a Precious ship. The seven gods are the God of fortune Ebisu, the god of fertility and the patron of Daikoku merchants, the god of fate Hotei, the god of wisdom Jurojin, the god of longevity Fuku-roku-ju, the god of war and the patron of policemen and doctors Bishamon, the patron of the arts Benten. This dream foreshadows the fulfillment of a person’s most cherished dream.
Japanese culture is monolithic, only external changes are available to it, and the root, the basis, the heart of the country is unshakable. Adopting the best from the West, the Japanese will never allow these acquisitions to displace, replace the solid, unchanging core of the Japanese tradition.