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The Tanabata Festival in Japan

The Tanabata festival — one of the most romantic in Japan. It is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month — that is, 7 July in the Gregorian calendar. According to the legend, on this day only two lovers, separated on the sky the Milky way, can meet and spend time together.

The basis of the Tanabata festival is an ancient legend about a beautiful girl named Orihime, the daughter of the God of the Firmament. All day did she that wove the cloud — the heavenly clothing of his divine father. But one day she saw a young man named Kibokoni that led to about a bull. And, of course, immediately fell in love. The feeling captured Orihime so much that she forgot about his work. After the wedding, the couple neglected their case: loom stood idle, and the bull wandered aimlessly through the vast Plains of High Heaven. Found out about it, the God of the Firmament became angry and commanded that the lovers have separated, and not just so, and the Heavenly River, i.e. Milky Way. And only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, the lovers can meet. Help them to magpies: connecting your wings, they form a living bridge over which Orihime and Kibokoni can pass to each other and to spend some time together.

And that doesn’t happen every year! If the weather is rainy, the Heavenly River overflows and even magpies are not able to help spouses. Have to wait for next year, hoping that the weather will be good and they will be able to connect, albeit briefly. And people are struggling to help them, before singing a holiday song with the words: “Tenchi no Nari” (“let there be good weather”).

The special beauty of this legend becomes, if you know what actually it is about the two stars — the Altair in the constellation Aquila (Kibokoni) and VEGA in the constellation Lyra (Orihime). They are really separated by the Milky way and cannot see each other. Perhaps watching the stars, far-distant ancestors (and not even the Japanese, and the Chinese — from there came the tradition to celebrate this holiday) felt the sadness from the fact that these two bright “heavenly Firefly” are at such a distance. And so was born this story.

Modern man can also understand the longing of the two separated hearts, so the Tanabata festival in Japan is celebrated to this day and is especially loved by the girls (which is not surprising, given the romantic flair, which he shrouded).

On this day in Japan it is customary to leave around the house bamboo stalks (the closer to the roof — the better) and attach to them the wishes and requests on coloured paper strips. The traditional colors of paper — blue, green, red, yellow and white — it’s those colors that Shine above the stars. It is believed that especially probably wishes that are somehow related to the number of requests to talent — after all, Orihime is a patron of the arts.

I must say that the date July 7 is quite approximate. The holiday is celebrated, “the seventh day of the seventh month” of the lunar calendar. In the days when Japan began to consider the usual system for us, it turned out that this date falls somewhere in the middle of August. And there are “conservatives” who continue to celebrate Tanabata at this time. However, the majority still prefer rather to rely on a nice date. They may be right, because in this feast, in principle, great beauty, people dress up, have parades and fireworks, colorfully decorate the streets. But the Tanabata festival public holiday is not. However, this does not stop those who want to celebrate Valentine’s day.

And no wonder they say that the longer the wait, the more joyful the meeting. How happy Orihime and Kibokoni on this day, people rejoice in the opportunity to glorify such a great love that could withstand the test, separation, stranger’s wrath, which overcame all the difficulties and still shines bright and pure, like two stars, located on two sides of the milky way. Anyone can see them not only on this day. And every Japanese person looking at the starry sky, probably among others, and recalls the legend of the Tanabata festival, this poignant and light, full of hope and belief that the feelings can overcome everything, and even one meeting in a year — that happiness, if it’s a meeting with the beloved.