Shichi-go-san 七五三

Shichi go san, are the numbers seven, five and three in Japanese. Shichi-go-san is also the celebration for boys who  are 5 years old and girls are 3 and 7 years old.

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After doing a little research I found that the tradition started around the Heian period (794-1185). The nobles considered these ages a very important time in a child’s life. So on a lucky day in November they celebrated the growth of their children during these ages. In Japanese numerology odd numbers are considered lucky. But these ages also had significance because at the age of seven, a young girl could wear her first obi replacing the simple cords used, while at the age of five a young boy could wear his first hakama. After some time, the practice began amongst the samurai and the age of three marked the first time when both boys and girls were allowed to let their hair grow. It was during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) Shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa was said to be celebrating the growth of his son on November 15th. By the Edo period (1603-1868) it became more common for people to visit shrines and to have prayers offered by priests, so the practice of shichi-go-san spread to people outside the nobility. The shichi-go-san custom which is practiced today largely came from the Meiji era (1868-1912). November 15 was chosen for shichi-go-san because it was considered one of the most auspicious days of the year in the Japanese almanac. But since the day is not a national holiday, most families celebrate shichi-go-san on the weekend just before or after November 15th by visiting a shrine where the priest will say prayers wishing the children long, healthy and prosperous lives.

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