Shichi-Go-San, a Ceremony to Celebrate Children’s Growth
"Shichigosan" is a traditional Japanese ceremony to celebrate the growth of children and wish them good health.
Boys visit shrines on November 15th of the year they turn 3 and 5, and girls visit shrines on November 15th of the same year they turn 3 and 7. Although November 15th is the traditional day for "Shichigosan", many people nowadays do not stick to this day and celebrate on weekends or holidays in November to suit their family's schedule.
Origin of "Shichigosan"
How did this ceremony come to be held?
In the past, when medicine was not as advanced as it is today, it was not a matter of course for children to grow up healthy. For this reason, celebrating the milestones of a child's growth was important in Japanese culture. The "Shichigosan" is said to have originated from three ceremonies held on November 15th in the early Edo period to celebrate the growth of children: hair placement, hakama wearing, and obi untying.
At the age of three, children begin to grow out their shaved hair.
At the age of 5, boys put on hakama for the first time.
At the age of seven, girls begin to tie their kimono with an "obi (sash)" instead of a string.
This ceremony is said to have been the origin of the milestone celebrations for boys and girls at the age of three, for boys only at the age of five, and for girls only at the age of seven.
On the day of "Shichigosan", children are given candy called " Chitose Ame" at shrines. The word "Chitose" means "one thousand years", and the candy is given with the hope that the child will live a long and healthy life. Chitose candy is a long red and white candy stick that comes in a bag with a good-luck crane or turtle on it. The long sticks of candy are difficult to eat, but for the children of the "Shichigosan", this is one of the pleasures.
"Kimono (Japanese clothes)" in Japanese culture are often associated with adults rather than children.
It is very cute to see children wearing kimonos. If you pass by a shrine in November, please take a peek and maybe you will see a child celebrating Shichigosan.
When you come to Japan, I hope you will experience, see, and feel the Japanese culture.