Shunbun no Hi: The First Day of Spring
Did you know, in Japan, the coming of spring is celebrated with a national holiday? Shunbun no Hi, or Vernal Equinox Day is a public holiday in Japan dedicated to celebrating the beginning of spring. The exact date of Shunbun no Hi varies from year to year, as it is calculated based on astronomical measurements, but it usually falls on March 20th or 21st. This year, Shunbun no Hi falls on Saturday, March 20th.
Though it is presently considered a secular holiday, Shunbun no Hi has its origins in Shinto tradition. Originally it took place smack in the middle of a week-long series of celebrations all centered around the coming of spring. Present celebrations are a bit more abbreviated, for the most part taking place within a single day. Since Shunbun no Hi is a national holiday, many businesses are closed, leaving Japanese people with time to spend celebrating with their families.
Modern day celebrations of Shunbun no Hi are largely centered around the idea that the day is one to honor nature, be benevolent to other living things, and strive for the future. Visiting parks and zoos, and spending time outside in general, are all common activities. Many Japanese will travel to visit relatives and family reunions on this day are a fairly common occurrence. Some people use the day to visit the family grave, clean it for spring, and leave flowers as an offering for the ancestors. Farmers and agricultural workers are also known to visit shrines on Shunbun no Hi to pray for a bountiful growing season.
How will you celebrate spring this year? Perhaps bring a little Shunbun no Hi into your life. Visit a park, spend some time outside, and, most importantly, take a moment to appreciate the living beings around you.