Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Respect for the Aged Day!

The third Monday in September is a national holiday called "Respect for the Aged Day" or  keiro no hi. This Japanese holiday, which began in a tiny village in 1947, was originally called "Old People Day" (gee, I wonder why the name was changed?) and is a day to give respect to the elderly and pray for their health.

Respect for the Aged Day is also a time to celebrate longevity. Japan has some of the oldest people in the world and this day is another way to help honor them. Since Japan's society is aging at a rapid pace, this day will be increasingly important in the years to come.

On this day some neighborhoods will distribute bento boxes to elderly in the area. Towns will hold ceremonies or shows where younger people and school children prepare special dances and songs.  In schools, children make crafts  for the older residents of the community. Families treat their elderly members to special meals. Banks, post offices, schools (including our International school), and some stores are all closed.

In Japan, one’s elders have traditionally been respected. How one is greeted, what name someone is called, how people are spoken to, and even how someone is bowed to, all depends upon the age of the person. It is pretty cool to see how people treat and interact with the elderly here. This day is definitely one thing the Japanese does right.

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