Labor Thanksgiving Day

Labor Thanksgiving Day (勤労感謝の日, Kinrō Kansha no Hi) is an annual public holiday in Japan celebrated on November 23 of each year,[1] unless that day falls on a Sunday, in which case the holiday is moved to Monday.[2] The law establishing the holiday cites it as an occasion to respect labor, to celebrate production, and for citizens to give each other thanks.[3]

Labor Thanksgiving Day
Official name勤労感謝の日 (Kinrō Kansha no Hi)
Observed byJapan
SignificanceCommemorates labor and production and giving one another thanks; formerly a harvest festival
CelebrationsSchool children prepare cards or gifts for people in the labor sector to show appreciation. Companies review their accomplishments and congratulate their workers for their dedication.
DateNovember 23
Next time23 November 2024 (2024-11-23)
Related toNiiname-no-Matsuri, Daijosai

History edit

Labor Thanksgiving Day is the modern name for an ancient harvest festival known as Niiname-sai (新嘗祭, also read as Shinjō-sai), celebrating the harvest of the Five Cereals. The classical chronicle the Nihon Shoki mentions a harvest ritual having taken place during the reign of the legendary Emperor Jimmu (660–585 BC), as well as more formalized harvest celebrations during the reign of Emperor Seinei (480–484 AD). Modern scholars can date the basic forms of niiname-sai to the time of Emperor Tenmu (667–686 AD).[4] Traditionally, it celebrated the year's hard work; during the Niiname-sai ceremony, the Emperor would dedicate the year's harvest to kami (spirits), and taste the rice for the first time.[5] The festival was held on the second Day of the Rabbit in the 11th month of each year under the lunar calendar, and was fixed at November 23 when Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873.[6]

During the occupation of Japan after World War II, the United States-led authorities sought to abolish Japanese national holidays rooted in the State Shinto mythology, including Niiname-sai.[7][8] This led to an official recommendation to the Japanese government (with the practical effect of an order) to replace these holidays with secular ones.[9][10] The Japanese government responded in 1948 by adopting a new national holiday law that renamed the holiday to Labor Thanksgiving Day while keeping the date the same.[11]

May 1 is also celebrated as Labor Day by many trade unions in Japan,[12] which hold large rallies and marches in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.[citation needed]

Celebration edit

On this day, school children prepare cards or gifts to distribute to police officers, firefighters, hospital staffs, personnel of the Japan Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard and other people in the labor sector to show appreciation for their contributions to the country.[13] Companies review their accomplishments and congratulate their workers for their dedication.[citation needed] Families get together and have dinner at home on this holiday. In addition, individuals themselves are encouraged to relax and take care of themselves.[14]

Niiname Festival at Hikosan Jingu Hoheiden, November 23, 2015

The traditional Niiname-sai festival is still held privately by the Imperial House of Japan on Labor Thanksgiving Day.[5][15] It is considered one of the most significant annual rituals by the Emperor, requiring rites to be conducted from 6 PM to 8 PM and from 11 PM to 1 AM in the presence of only two servants.[16] Due to the physical requirements of the rites, Emperor Hirohito ceased participation at age 70 and Emperor Akihito shortened his participation in stages from age 75 to age 80.[16] The festival is also celebrated publicly at some Shinto shrines such as Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka.[11]

The Nagano Ebisuko Fireworks Festival (長野えびす講煙火大会) is held on Labor Thanksgiving Day and had 400,000 attendees in 2017.[17]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Stuart D. B. Picken (2010). Historical Dictionary of Shinto. Scarecrow Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-810-87372-8.
  2. ^ "Thanksgiving in Japan: Labour Thanksgiving Day". Japan Rail Pass. October 30, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  3. ^ "「国民の祝日」について" [About "national holiday"]. Cabinet Office (Japan). Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  4. ^ Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko (November 14, 1994). Rice as self: Japanese identities through time. Princeton University Press. pp. 46–7. ISBN 978-0-691-02110-2. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Morrill, Ann (August 2009). Thanksgiving and Other Harvest Festivals. Infobase Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-60413-096-6. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  6. ^ "11月23日「勤労感謝の日」の由来・起源". [暮らしの歳時記] All About (in Japanese). Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  7. ^ Nugent, D. R. (May 27, 1948). "Memorandum for the Chief of Staff: Abolition of Certain Japanese National Holidays".
  8. ^ "屈指の「祝日大国」日本、ちゃんと休めていますか". 読売新聞オンライン (in Japanese). May 8, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  9. ^ 河村, 直哉 (November 7, 2019). "【河村直哉の時事論】GHQ日本改変の果ての、ハロウィーン". 産経ニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  10. ^ "【主張】建国記念の日 国家の存続喜び祝う日に". 産経ニュース (in Japanese). February 11, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "【西論】祝日考 本来の意味を知っておきたい". 産経ニュース (in Japanese). November 25, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  12. ^ Hijirida, Kyoko; Yoshikawa, Muneo (1987). Japanese language and culture for business and travel. University of Hawaii Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-8248-1017-7. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Miller, Adam (November 22, 2011). "Labor Thanksgiving Day – 勤労感謝の日". Axiom Magazine. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  14. ^ "2020年は三連休! 「勤労感謝の日」の由来と過ごし方". SKYWARD+ (in Japanese). Japan Airlines. August 1, 2020. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  15. ^ "たいまつの明かりに照らされ、天皇陛下「別のお姿」…きょう新嘗祭 過酷な儀式どのように執り行われるのか(1/3ページ)". 産経ニュース (in Japanese). November 23, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  16. ^ a b Ito, Koichiro (November 24, 2017). "Inside the Niinamesai: The Emperor's Most Difficult Ritual | JAPAN Forward". Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  17. ^ "夜空の華 光の乱舞 長野・えびす講花火". Shinano Daily News (in Japanese). November 24, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2017.[permanent dead link]

External links edit