Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. The cultural festival dates back approximately 2000 years and has its roots in a Chinese legend. Princess, Orihime, a weaver, fell in love with a cow herder named Hikoboshi. They were so madly in love that they forgot about their work. As punishment, Orihime’s father, the emperor of the heavens, moved the lovers to opposite sides of the Milky Way and allowed them to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. The lovers can only meet if it is a clear night; if it rains, they must wait another year. (In some regions, Tanabata is celebrated August 7th instead.)
To celebrate Tanabata, people write their wishes on strips of colored paper called tanzaku. The wishes, together with other paper ornaments, are hung on bamboo branches outside homes, shopping centers and stores in the hope that they come true. Children can also make Teru Teru Bozu to wish for clear skies.
For more Japanese-inspired fun, here’s some recipes, activities and books:
Craft a Tanabata Wish Tree (Tanzaku)
Japanese summer recipe: cold somen noodles in broth
Read a book on Japanese celebrations with your child