What is Tanabata: It is a Japanese Star Festival that occurs on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar month. It’s a very sweet albeit strange story but here it is (there are several different variations, here’s the most common one I could find:
Orihime (織姫, Weaving Princess) the daughter of the Tenkou (天工, Sky King, or the universe itself) wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the River of Heaven (天の川 Amanogawa). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard everyday to weave it. However, she was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone. Concerned about his daughter, Tenkou arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星, Cow Herder Star) sometimes called Kengyuu (牽牛, Chinese name of Hikoboshi) who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and were shortly married. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tenkou and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tenkou separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa River and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tenkou was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime 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 (鵲, カササギ, Kasasagi) came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. If it rains, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait till next year.
How they celebrate: It’s a Japanese tradition wherein people write their wishes on tanzaku papers (colorful, small strips of papers) and hang them on bamboo branches. People also decorate bamboo branches with various kinds of paper decorations and place them outside their houses. Many cities and towns hold tanabata festivals and have tanabata displays, decorating the main streets. In some regions, people light lanterns and float them on the river, or float bamboo leaves on the river.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because my little L and my mom took a class today at our Botanical Gardens and they learned all about this celebration and they made their own bamboo branch with wish papers. Here’s a picture of L with hers.
Here’s a close-up of her wish papers…
She and GeGe had so much fun she can’t wait to go back. While they were in their class J and I checked out some of the Niki sculptures. They were so fun to crawl on and look through.
All in all it was a fun day and the kids were so tired because after the gardens we went swimming. WOW that’s alot in one day.