July 7 「七夕 (たなばた)」

The Star Festival:

Tanabata is the Weaver Star Festival, which occurs on July 7.  The Chinese legend, which has it that Altair (the Cowherd Star) and Vega (the Weaver Star) were split apart by the two banks of the River of Heaven (the Milky Way) and come together once a year on this night, has aligned with Japanese belief.  Originally a festival carried out among the Court nobility, it has since the Edo Period (1603-1867) become established among the people at large.

On the night of the 6th, people write their wishes or poems on strips of poety paper in vatious color.  And hung them on leafy bamboo; then on the night of the 7th, they are  put out in the garden.  These are attractive enough to be called summer Christmas trees.  In recent years, cities like Sendai and Hiratsuka attract sightseers by decorating their shopping street arcades with these tanabata decorations on a large-scale.

七 夕は7月7日に行われる星祭です。天の川を挟んで両岸にさかれたアルタイ(牽牛星)とベガ(織女星)が年に一度この日の夜に出会う、という中国の伝説が日 本の信仰と一緒になったもので、もとは朝廷の貴族の間で行われていた祭りでしたが、江戸時代(1603-1867)から一般庶民の間に定着しました。

6日の夜には、色とりどりの短冊に願い事を書いたり、歌を書いたりして笹につるし、7日の夜に庭先に出します。夏のクリスマス・ツリーと言えるほど美しいものです。近年では、仙台や平塚などの市が大規模な飾りを商店街のアーケードに飾って観光客を集めています。

From Traditional Japanese Culture & Modern Japan
「日本文化を英語で紹介する事典」より

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