2006-09-23

Legends of the Fall.

ハッピー秋分の日! Or Happy Autumnal Equinox Day! (happi shuubun no hi)

This is one of the most traditional Japanese National Holidays and seems to have a double origin. One is the celebration of seasonal change typical of an agricultural society: this is the day when the day-time and the night-time are of equal length. From this day on the night-time hours will be longer than the day-time hours, until the winter solstice in late December, the shortest day of the year.

 This autumnal Equinox Day is also called 彼岸の中日 (higan no chu-nichi), which is based on Buddhist teaching. Many Japanese visit their family tombs on this day in the middle of the week of higan to pay their respects to their ancestors. People weed their family tombs and leave flowers, incense and おはぎ (ohagi sweet rice balls covered with soybean paste.) It is tradition that ancestors' spirits prefer round food!

There is another higan in spring, at the time of the Spring Equinox. Thus there is a saying, 暑さ寒さも彼岸まで ("Atsusa samusa mo Higan made"/ "Heat and cold last until Higan")

And a heads up to my Toronto friends! Have a pint for me!

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