Friday, November 20, 2009

No turkey on Thanksgiving?

It’s November, the time of football and best of all, turkey!! But they don’t have that custom here in Japan…

When you think of Thanksgiving, if you are from the states, you’ll probably think of pilgrims and Indians having a big festival and dining on a huge meal. Like roasted turkey and cranberry sauce lining up on the table with pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes glazed with gravy…ooh just typing these makes my stomach growl…

But here in Japan there are no such meals and the thanksgiving holiday is named, “Labor Thanksgiving.” It’s more like a labor day here in Japan. But the meaning of the holiday itself is the same as the thanksgiving in the states.

Labor Thanksgiving used to be a name of the festival for rice harvesting known as “Niiname Sai.” This festival is believed to have taken place first in November of the year 678. The whole purpose of the festival was to celebrate the hard work of the harvesters by having the Emperor dedicate the year’s harvest to the spirit and taste the rice for the first time of the year.

From Niinam Sai, the name evolved into “Kinro-kansha no hi,” “Labor Thanksgiving.” (Kinro means workers and kansha is thanking) This occurred after World War II, in 1948, to mark the changes of the postwar constitution in Japan, which included the fundamental human rights and expansion of workers rights.

Today, the Niiname Sai is not held around Japan, but it is held privately by the Imperial Family and the Thanksgiving Day became the national holiday to relax for the workers.

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