Tuesday, July 7, 2009


TANABATA, also known as the "star festival," takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the Milky Way, are able to meet.
Tanabata originated more than 2,000 years ago with an old Chinese tale called Kikkoden. Once there was a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi living in space. (True Sci-Fi Theater stuff!)
After they got together, they were playing all the time and forgot about their jobs. The king was angry at them and separated them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River (Milky Way). The king allowed them to meet only once a year on July 7th. This is why Tanabata is also known as the star festival. It's believed that Orihime and Hikoboshi can't see each other if July 7th is rainy, so people pray for good weather and also make wishes for themselves. (Good news here: The weather is clear.)
Because the seventh month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Tanabata is still celebrated on August 7th in some regions of Japan, while it is celebrated on July 7th in other regions.
One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.
I'm off to hang my wishes from the magnolia tree in the front yard - femminismo


Anairam said...

What an interesting myth! I love stories like these and I really like your idea of hanging your wishes out too ... We have the tree-pruning people in today, so I will have to wait for them to finish - they might think I'm a bit mad hanging bits of paper on the branches! (So you are into editing too? I'm a freelance editor and proofreader - although you wouldn't know that to look at my writing sometimes. My excuse is that English is not my first language!)

Liss said...

I love the idea of hanging wishes on a tree and I can imagine the more wishes the nice the tree would look.

This is an interesting myth and story of celebration.

apprentice said...

Travelling people/gypsies do that in Scotland and IOreland too - they have special trees in remote spots that they use.

Rouchswalwe said...

Happy Tanabata! (Your photos bring back happy memories.) We had a clear sky here last night and a beautiful Full Buck Moon! Thanks for dropping by the 5fingerplatz, Femminismo.

3rdEyeMuse said...

I soooo love learning something new ... thanks for the wonderful lesson. :)

may all your wishes come true!!

An Evolving Artist @ Swallowcliffs.blogspot.com/ said...

Interesting story. I checked your blog roll and I am not there. :-( You should add me! OK?

Candace said...

What a great great story. I will definitely mark my calendar for next year... a friend once had a party for this very thing. Years ago, simply forgot it in the mists of time. lol.
What a sweet little anime illo! I hope all your wishes come true, Jeanne, now and always.
Your Pal in Athens.