Kodomo no hi (Tango no sekku)
Children’s Day. It falls on May 5, and is one of the most popularly celebrated national holidays.
Although it is called Children’s Day, it is actually celebrated as the Boys’ Festival. (The Girls’ Festival is March 3, which is called Hinamatsuri)
It is also a seasonal festival called tango-no-sekku (Iris Festival), because May 5 marks the beginning of summer on the old lunar calendar. To drive away bad spirits and celebrate the future of their sons, families hoist koinobori (cloth coustructed carp streamers) from balconies and flagpoles, and indoors display gogatsu-ningyo (samurai dolls and their armaments) on layered ledges. Children take shcbuyu (a bath with a bunch of floating iris leaves), and eat kashiwa-mochi (a rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf) and chimaki (a dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves). Carp, samurai, irises, oak trees, and bamboos all symbolize strength.
Parents prepare these decorations and foods with the earnest wish that their children may grow up to be healthy and robust.