Spring customs

13 Mar

I don’t remember most of the lesser known American holidays, so correct me if I’m wrong.
But, as I remember, in America there are some spring customs but no legal holidays.

First, February 2 is “Groundhog Day” in America.
A groundhog is a type of マーモット…

A groundhog.

Not to be confused with 「モルモット」, which means “guinea pig” in Japanese.

A guinea pig.

In America, on Groundhog Day people watch a groundhog to see if he leaves his burrow or not.
If he does, that’s supposed to mean that spring will start soon…if he returns to his burrow after sticking his head out, that means the cold winter weather will continue longer.

At least that’s how I remember it. It’s an odd custom.

April 1st is called “April Fool’s Day“.

On this day in America, people play practical jokes on each other…if someone falls for one of these practical jokes, then he’s labeled a “fool” for the day–the “April Fool“.

Also Easter, I believe, is on the first Sunday of April.
This is a religious Christian holiday.
Many people in America, Canada (and maybe some European countries too) paint Easter eggs and “the Easter Bunny” gives baskets of chocolate to children.

School students get a week or so “Spring Break” holiday from school…but it’s not the end of the school year yet (as it is in Japan). Summer Break is the end of the U.S. school year.

In Japan spring is different.
Here, the school year ends in March and begins after spring in April.
Students in Japan who will be starting high school or college must take Entrance Exams. (My second daughter passed her Entrance Exam and will be starting high school next month).

At almost the same time as Groundhog Day in the U.S., Japan has Setsubun on February 2nd every year.

In March, Japan has Doll Festival on March 3rd, and White Day on March 14th (tomorrow). But those aren’t legal holidays (I mean, they’re not days off).
But around March 20th is 「春分の日」 (Spring Equinox) is a legal holiday. This year, Spring Equinox is Sunday, March 21st…so it’ll will be observed the next day—Monday, March 22nd will be a day off.
Many people visit their family grave on this day.

A big holiday season in Japan occurs in spring. It’s called “Golden Week“.
Golden Week is technically May 3rd – May 5th (「憲法記念日」 (Constitution Day), 「緑の日」 (Greenery Day), and 「子供の日」 (Children’s Day) respectively)…but often 「昭和の日」 (Showa Day), which is on April 29th, is included.
So, some people get Golden Week holiday from April 29th – May 5th.

And, of course, a very important springtime custom in Japan is 「花見」 (Cherry-Blossom Viewing).

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4 Responses to “Spring customs”

  1. Dad March 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    If they left out the groundhog what fun would that be?

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 16, 2010 at 1:21 am #

      Just trying to make it more efficient! 😀

      Like

  2. Dad March 14, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    Hi all,
    the thing about grounhog day is if the groundhog sees his shadow then there will be 6 more weeks of winter, so everyone hopes that day is very cloudy.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

      >if the groundhog sees his shadow

      Oh, I thought it depended on whether the animal left his hole in the ground or not.

      How does anyone know if the groundhog can see his shadow.

      >everyone hopes that day is very cloudy

      Well, then it seems that the groundhog is a moot point. They could cut him out and just say that if February 2nd is cloudy then spring will come sooner (but…it seems like a sunny day would imply spring is near). 😉

      Like

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