Today is Children’s Day, also known as Kodomo No Hi. This national holiday is celebrated in Japan and by many Japanese Americans stateside. Children’s Day celebrates the happiness of all children and gratitude towards mothers. In my family we've always referred to May 5th as Boy’s Day.
On Boy’s Day, families traditionally hang carp flags, or koinobori, outside of their homes. The bigger fish represents the father and the second fish represents the older son. The younger sons and/or other children also get a carp flag to hang below their siblings.
In addition, families display a Kintaro doll usually riding a large carp and a Kabuto, which is a traditional Japanese military helmet. Both of these items represent a strong healthy boy.
Mochi, or rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves, as well as Chimaki, a kind of sweet rice paste wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf, are traditionally served today.
The origami Kabuto hats in the photo above are very popular and easy to make. Here is a short tutorial if you are up to it. It's very basic. You'll be able to make them in 2 minutes and you don't need origami. Really!
Even though Children's Day is targeted more towards boys, the girls are not forgotten and have a day all for themselves. Hinamatsuri, also known as the doll festival, is celebrated on March 3rd and is exclusively for little girls. However, it is not a national holiday that has caused some controversy over the years.
If your are feeling crafty, grab your little boys (or girls) and have them make their own carp kite.
Or you can always help them celebrate by making a festive bento lunch!
PS: Happy Cinco De Mayo!