How a Japanese Tradition Can Start Conversations About Identity

You may have read my post about how I celebrated the Japanese Tradition of Girls’ Day with my students or perhaps you’ve seen the Boys’ Day cards I have given to students. It is a way for me to share a unique aspect of my culture with my students and one that always leads to really interesting discussions with my students. Instead of sharing the individual celebrations with students, I’ve been sharing Children’s Day, or Kodomo no hi with them. Starting in 1948, Children’s Day became a national holiday in Japan and is actually a part of their Golden Week–a series of four holidays all within one week! 

Last year when I shared the Children’s Day celebration with my students, they were really intrigued. They thought that it was so interesting to learn how important and honored children were and that they received a special day for themselves. They noted that in the U.S. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are important celebrations, but this made them think that everyone in the family had a day to feel honored. They started dreaming up their own Children’s Day celebrations and sentiments they would like older people to wish them. After sharing some of the symbols of the holiday, they had even more questions. I could tell they were really trying to connect to what they were learning. It also made me think about an awesome project kids can do–think about how they’d like to be celebrated!

After learning a little background information about Girls’ Day, Boys’ Day, and Children’s Day, this year I’m going to ask my students to really think about ways children can and should be celebrated in the U.S.! I know we’ll have to first have a conversation about how this isn’t going to be National Junk Food Day, but that they’ll really have to consider meaningful ways to wish for good health and success all while honoring the unique talents of every child. They’ll focus in on connections to nature, how food can be symbolic, and activities that would encourage continued growth.

For me, it is important to share important aspects of my identity with my students, so they can see the value in their identities and I always try to provide them a space to do that. Talking about Children’s Day is just one easy way to start that conversation in reminding them that they are special! It can also lead them to talk about their ethnic, cultural, and even age group identities. Check out the entire Digital Children’s Day in Japan resource, and make a copy of the digital card by clicking the button below!

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