May 5 is Kodomo no hi（子供の日/Children’s Day）in Japan. It once was traditionally a day for boys, and Girls’ Day being on March 3.
On this day, families celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children. It has been a day of celebration since ancient times, and became a national holiday in 1948, designated holiday called Children’s Day to honor both boys and girls.
On this day, shoubu(菖蒲/Japanese iris) leaves are used to decorate roofs and are put in a hot bath as a charm against evil spirits and diseases.
Families with boys hanging out koi-nobori (鯉幟/carp streamers), shaped like carp, historical warrior dolls are displayed on tiers set up in the alcove. Traditional treats for this special day, chimaki(粽・茅巻/ricedumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) and kashiwa-mochi(柏餅/rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves), are prepared.
鯉幟 Koi-nobori (Carp streamers)
Carp have the strength to swim even up waterfalls and have long been taken as symbols of success in life.
Legend has it that a carp which swum up a waterfall turns into the dragon, and learns to fly in the sky. The koinobori were flown in the hopes that the boy of the house would grow to be as strong and courageous as the carp.
I had presented Kodomo no hi at my church the other day. Girls and boys enjoyed wearing kimono, making Origami warrior’s helmet out of newspapers, playing with Japanese ancient toys and trying some Japanese sweets made from rice. It was such a fun day with them!