To build and develop the understanding of the Asian culture – although it’s quite difficult to talk about the Asia as an unified entity, I have decided to embark upon discovering and exploring various national and public holidays of Asian countries.
And with no further delay – today is the Respect for the Aged Day, known as “Keiro no Hi” (敬老の日 in Japanese), a national holiday in Japan that celebrates and honors elderly citizens.
It takes place on the third Monday of September each year, and its primary purpose is to show respect and appreciation for the contributions and wisdom of the elderly population in Japanese society.
Origins and History
Respect for the Aged Day was established as a national holiday in Japan relatively recently, in 1947. It was introduced by the Japanese government to promote respect and care for the elderly in society and to express gratitude for their contributions to the family and community.
Originally, Respect for the Aged Day was celebrated on September 15th each year. However, in 1966, the Japanese government decided to move the holiday to the third Monday of September as part of their efforts to implement the Happy Monday System. This system aimed to create more three-day weekends to boost domestic tourism and leisure activities.
Ceremonies and Activities
On Respect for the Aged Day, various ceremonies and activities are organized at local community centers, schools, and public spaces to honor senior citizens. These activities often include speeches, performances, and cultural events that showcase the talents and experiences of older individuals.
Gifts and Tokens of Appreciation
It is customary for younger generations, especially family members, to give gifts or tokens of appreciation to their elderly relatives on this day. Popular gifts include flowers, fruit baskets, and traditional Japanese gifts like sake or clothing items.
Many local communities and organizations also host events and programs for the elderly on this day. These can include free medical check-ups, workshops, or outings, which provide opportunities for seniors to socialize, learn new skills, and enjoy various recreational activities.
Beyond the organized activities, Respect for the Aged Day serves as a reminder for Japanese society to be considerate and respectful towards its elderly citizens every day. It’s common for people to visit their grandparents, attend family gatherings, or simply spend quality time with older family members as a sign of respect and affection.
Public Recognition: The government often recognizes and honors particularly outstanding senior citizens on this day. Some local governments hold awards ceremonies to celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities or who have reached remarkable ages.
In the lead-up to Respect for the Aged Day, you may see special symbols and icons displayed throughout Japan, such as the “Silver Human Resources Center” logo. These symbols emphasize the value and potential of senior citizens in the workforce and society.
Public and Private Initiatives: Various public and private organizations use this occasion to promote policies and initiatives that support the well-being and welfare of the elderly, such as healthcare, housing, and social services.
Respect for the Aged Day reflects the deep respect for older generations and the importance of family and community bonds in Japanese culture. It is a meaningful celebration that highlights the wisdom, experience, and contributions of senior citizens while fostering a sense of unity and gratitude among the Japanese people.