Sunday is Shichi-Go-San

Have a child who’s 3, 5 or 7? Take part in this fun Japanese tradition!

In Japan, children who are three, five, or seven years old are thought to be especially lucky. On November 15, families who have children of these ages take part in a very old festival called Shichi-Go-San, or "Seven-Five-Three."

Technically, the holiday is for 3 and 7 year-old girls and 5 year-old boys. Many parents celebrate when any of their children are these odd (and therefore lucky) ages, though.

On this day, the children dress in their finest clothes. Some wear Western-style clothes while others follow the old customs and wear traditional kimonos. Every child gets a long, narrow paper bag colorfully decorated with pictures– usually of a pine tree, a tortoise, and a crane, symbols of youth and long life.

When everyone is ready, the families go to a shrine or place of worship. There, they give thanks for the good health of the children and typically leave a contribution. They also ask for a blessing for the future health and happiness of the children.

Outside the shrine, there are stalls where the parents buy candy and toys to fill the children’s paper bags. After the families return home, the children give some of their candy to visiting friends and relatives. In return, the children are often given gifts. Finally, the day may end with a party.

You can read one mother’s account of taking part with her daughter for the first time in Japan here.

If you have a child whose age fits the bill, this could be a sweet element to work into the day tomorrow — even if it’s just to dress up, take pictures, give thanks and have some candy!

Mine are 2, 6, 9 and 11, so I don’t have a single child who qualifies. Maybe we’ll celebrate unlucky years. 😉


1 Comment

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One response to “Sunday is Shichi-Go-San

  1. Anonymous

    I forgot about this!
    We did this when I lived in Japan! I totally forgot about this!
    Thanks for reminding me about this tradition!

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