January 13


In Punjab, January marks a lull in the winter wheat harvest. Farmers plant wheat in October and harvest the crops in March or April. By January the wheat has sprung up and farmers rejoice in anticipation of a bountiful harvest.

The traditional Indian calendar has twelve months and two seasons: Uttarayan (January 14 to July 14) and Dakshinayana (July 14 to January 14). Today is Lohri, the last day of Dakshinayana, considered winter in the traditional Indian calendar. From here on out the days grow longer and warmer.

In the morning on Lohri day, children go from door to door singing and demanding the Lohri ‘loot’ in the form of money and eatables like til (sesame) seeds, peanuts, jaggery, or sweets like gajak, rewri, etc. — hinduism.about.com

In the evening people dance around the bonfires, throwing in til, puffed rice, and popcorn into the fire, praying for prosperity and abundance in the coming season, and singing traditional songs:

Who do you have?
The groom with the tandoor
The groom’s daughter got married,
He gave 1 kg sugar!
The girl is wearing a red suit!
But her shawl is torn!
Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori!
The landlords ate it!
He made the landlords eat a lot!
Lots of innocent guys came,
Innocent boy got left behind.
The police arrested him!
The policeman hit him with a brick!
Cry or howl!
Give us lohri…long live your jodi!”

Yes, something’s lost in translation. [But imagine what Indians would make of “Hey Diddle Diddle!”] This folk song, sometimes called “Ho’s in the Chorus,” (The word “ho!” is sung after each lyric.) harkens back to the legend of Dulla Bhatti.

Dulla Bhatti was a Muslim “Robin Hood” figure who fought against the Mughal Empire in Punjab, in what’s now the northeast of India. In addition to distributing his loot among the poor, Dulla was famous for rescuing boys and girls who had been sold into slavery or inducted into the Mughal army. Dulla adopted girls who had been kidnapped (“her shawl is torn“) as his daughters, restored their reputations (The lyric “The uncle made choori…He made the landlords eat a lot” refers to the uncle’s responsibility to vouch for a niece’s virginity) and married them off with hefty dowries. (“The groom’s daughter got married; he gave a measure of sugar.“)

Dulla Bhatti was eventually captured and hanged at the emperor’s court in Delhi. But his legend lives on during the Lohri celebration across Northern and Western India.
Lohri is among other things a fertility rite, marking the coming of spring. That may explain why the first Lohri of a newlywed bride is especially auspicious in Punjab. New brides are the center of festivities, dressed immaculately with bangles running up and down their arms; they can expect to be pampered today, as are the mothers of newborn babies experiencing their first Lohri.

Punjab (red), Northern India

Lohri ushers in a host of mid-January celebrations across India, known in various regions as Makar Sankranti, Pongal, and Maghi.

Freedom Defenders Day – 13.1.1991 – Lithuania

January 13

“One of the most important battles in Europe’s modern history was fought and won in Vilnius 16 years ago.”

Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister, January 2007

In the late 1980’s a “Singing Revolution” swept through the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Thousands of citizens coalesced night after night in each of the republics to sing national songs that had been banned under the Soviet regime. (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as half of Poland, had been annexed by the Soviet Union in accordance with a secret corollary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin a week before the outbreak of WWII.)

On the Pact’s 50th anniversary 2 million people participated in a human chain across the Baltic States to protest the occupation.

The Lithuanian Communist Party seceded from the Soviet Communist Party, and in its first free election Sajudis, the newly formed pro-independence party, won a majority. The Lithuanian Legislature declared its independence from the Soviet Union in March of 1990.

The leaders of the Soviet Union were not too keen on this. Soviet troops entered Vilnius on January 11th and seized control of strategic posts such as the Defense Department, railway office, and Press House.

Youtube: Soviet troops vs. unarmed Lithuanian civilians, January 13, 1991

By January 12th the news had spread through the country and throngs of Lithuanians gathered at the capital to protect other locations such as the Vilnius TV tower. In the wee hours of January 13th, Soviet tanks attacked the TV tower, plowing through crowds of unarmed people. Fourteen civilians were killed.

At 2:30 in the morning:

“a small TV studio from Kaunas came on air unexpectedly. A technician of the family program that usually broadcast from Kaunas once a week, was on the air, calling for anyone who could help to broadcast to the world in as many different languages as possible about the Soviet army and tanks killing unarmed people in Lithuania. Within an hour, the studio was filled with several university professors broadcasting in several languages. The small studio in Kaunas received a threatening phone call from the Soviet army division of Kaunas. By 4 in the morning this studio received the news that Swedish news station finally saw the broadcast and will be broadcasting the news to the world.”

At the 15th anniversary of the January 13th revolution, Arturas Paulauskas, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas said:

“In January 1991 there was no country in the world the people of which did not help us. Every uttered word defending our freedom at that time was an invaluable contribution into our victory, especially the words by the Russian people…Just the way they won here, in Vilnius, in January 1991. And here in Lithuania, and there in Riga, Tallinn, later in Kiev, other countries. Most importantly they won in Moscow: The country that attacked and enslaved no longer exists…

“FREE is stronger than FREER and stronger than the FREEST M. Gorbachev offered us to be FREER, but all we wanted was simply to be FREE.”

Paulauska’s final thoughts explained why the Lithuanian people must remember this relatively new holiday. Yet his speech echoed the sentiments of leaders throughout history as to why we celebrate holidays:

“It is a real joy to see young people…who were not yet born in January 1991…gathered at the fire and signing patriotic songs. However all this does not yet mean that this young generation knows what to do with freedom defended in 1991.

“Our generation still has to hand down to them Lithuania with alive spirit of freedom and true values. From hands to hands, from minds to minds, from hearts to hearts…Let us never forget this responsibility. In the name of those who were killed 15 years ago. And in the name of those still to come.”

Full text here.

Also see Lithuanian Independence Day – February 16

Swami Vivekananda & Youth Day

January 12

The glory of Krishna is not that he was Krishna, but that he was the great teacher of Vedanta…Persons are but the embodiments, the illustration of principles. If the principles are there, the persons will come by the thousands and millions.

But if the principle is lost and forgotten and the whole of national life tries to cling round a so-called historical person, woe unto that religion, danger unto that religion!

Swami Vivekananda

Over a third of the 1 billion+ Indian population is under 15. Two-thirds are under 30. So when this country celebrates Youth Day, you better pay attention.

The United Nations and much of the world celebrates Youth Day on August 12, but India chooses to celebrate on January 12, the birthday of Indian scholar and teacher Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda was an activist for the common people and the Spiritual Ambassador of India to the West during the late 19th century.

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda caused a spiritual earthquake in the U.S. when he spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago 1893. This was at a time when Hindus could be “outcast” simply by crossing the Atlantic.

One witness said: “No photograph or description can give a correct idea of the power of his eyes. They were wonderful. Like the Ancient Mariner in Coleridge’s famous people he ‘held you by the eye.’” (A. Srinivasa Pai)

One of the most powerful principles he taught and lived was that of “Jiva is Shiva,” that each individual is divinity itself. He believed that no one is truly free until all are truly free, even to the extent that personal salvation be secondary to helping others achieve salvation. He coined the term daridra narayana seva — serving God through less privileged human beings. His teachings heavily influenced the young Mahatma Gandhi.

Vivekananda was not without opponents. He believed that science and observation were the basis of religion, and thus religion taken on faith alone was the equivalent of superstition.

“I would rather have every one of you be rank atheists than superstitious fools, for the atheist is alive and you can make something out of him. But if superstition enters, the brain is gone…”


He espoused the revolutionary idea that religion be based on direct personal experience, rather than pure faith.

Religion is not going to church, or putting marks on the forehead, or dressing in a peculiar fashion. You may paint yourselves in all the colours of the rainbow, but if the heart has not been opened, if you have not realised God, it is all vain.

Vivekananda died on July 4, 1902, just shy of his 40th birthday. Today his memory serves as an inspiration to young people throughout India and the world.

If you have lost your wealth, you have lost nothing;

if you have lost your health, you have lost something;

if you have lost your character, you have lost everything.

Swami Vivekananda

More Words of Swami Vivekananda

Two American Heroes: MacDonald & Hostos

January 11

Okay, here I’m using ‘American’ in its broader sense. A Chilean once told me how he didn’t like the word ‘American’ or ‘America’ referring to one country. America stretches from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego and encompasses two continents, he reminded me. Why let one country hijack the name? I suppose it’s because it’s shorter than saying ‘United States citizen’.

Today is the birthday of (North) American hero John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada and an unabashed drunkard.

But my Canadian sources tell me no one in Canada knows or cares.

So instead let’s look south to the island of Puerto Rico to celebrate the birthday in 1839 of another American hero, a man called “the Citizen of the Americas”: Eugenio Maria de Hostos.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos

[observed 2nd Monday in January]

Hostos is considered one of the great modern thinkers of education. He wrote scores of books and hundreds of essays in numerous disciplines, from the most revered discourse on Hamlet in the Spanish language, to La Peregrinación de Bayoán, his 1863 novel promoting Cuban independence. His seminal works on education preceded those of John Dewey by two decades, and…

“…Although Hostos did not conduct rigorous experimental research pertaining to the mind and its development, his encyclopaedic knowledge of philosophy, linguistics, psychology, sociology, history and other disciplines gave him a coherent conceptualization and an operational model of mind.”

Angel Villarini Jusino & Carlos Antonio Torre
Fifty Major Thinkers on Education

Eugenio Maria de Hostos
Eugenio Maria de Hostos

Hostos was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 1839, the year Spanish poet Salas Quiroga magnanimously declared, “Puerto Rico is the corpse of a society that hasn’t been born.

From inauspicious beginnings, Hostos went on to attend secondary training at the University of Bilbao, Spain, and law school at Central University in Madrid. There he joined the Spanish republican movement, protesting government restraints on basic freedoms, but he was disillusioned in 1869 when the creators of the new Spanish constitution dashed all hopes for an independent Puerto Rico.

Hostos then sailed to New York City, where he became a Cuban revolutionary 90 years before Che made it hip. In those days Cuban revolutionaries fought for independence from Spain rather than U.S. imperialism. Hostos believed that a free Cuba would lead to a free Puerto Rico, and a “Federated Antillean Republic”, composed of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

Hostos trekked across the Americas speaking on this and other various causes:

In Chile, he lobbied successfully for the education of women.

In Argentina, he helped establish a trans-Andean railroad.

In the Dominican Republic he founded the first Teacher’s College.

In Cuba, he hastened the abolition of slavery.

And wherever he traveled he espoused the basic rights of all peoples and the importance of progressive education throughout the Americas as both a means and an end.

In order for humans to be humans, that is, worthy of realizing their life goals, nature bestowed them with awareness of herself, the ability to know their own origins, their own strengths and frailties, their own transcendence and interdependence, their rights and obligations, their own freedom and responsibilities, the capability for self-improvement and for self-enobling of their ideal existence.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos (1839-1903)

However, Hostos was gravely disappointed when in 1898 the United States annexed Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain, rather than granting them independence.

Hostos died in the Dominican Republic in 1903.

Cuba won its independence from the United States 18 months before Hostos’s death. Hostos requested that his remains be transfered back to Puerto Rico only when his homeland gained its independence. Needless to say, Hostos has been resting in the Dominican Republic’s National Pantheon for a hundred years and counting.

For the centennial of his birth, the 8th International Conference of America bestowed upon Hostos the title “El Cuidadano de las Americas”: Citizen of the Americas.

Gentlemen, I don’t have to tell you who I am. I am an American. I have the honor of being a Puerto Rican and a federalist. Being a colonial, a product of the colonial despotism, and hindered by it in my feelings, thoughts and actions, I took vengeance upon it by imagining a definitive form of liberty and I conceived a confederation of ideas, given the impossibility of a political confederation. I am a federalist because I am American, because I am a colonial – because I am Puerto Rican.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos, speech at the Madrid Ateneo, 1868

Puerto Rico celebrates Hostos’s Birthday on the second Monday of January.

Hostos statue, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Hostos statue, San Juan, Puerto Rico © Kurt


Eugenio Maria de Hostos: After One Hundred Years, by Muna Lee, from A Pan-American Life (2004)

Eugenio Maria de Hostos, by Angel Villarini Jusino & Carlos Antonio Torre, from Fifty Major Thinkers on Education (2001)

Works by Hostos, Hostos Community College

Carmenta – Roman Sex Goddess

January 11

If you’re like everyone I know, you had a baby this Fall.

But if you (or your loved one) are still expecting, you might want to give a shout out to Carmenta today, the Roman Goddess of Prophecy, Protectress of women in childbirth, and an early symbol of women’s lib.

Today marks the first day of Carmentalia, the Roman festival in her honor, observed by the women of ancient Rome.

This corresponds in name to the Latin Carmenta or Carmentis, of whom Preller says: The Goddess of Birth, Carmenta, was so zealously worshipped near the Porta Carmentalis, which was named from her, that there was a Flamen Carmentalis, and two calendar days, the eleventh and fifteenth of January, called the Carmentalia, devoted to her worship. These were among the most distinguished festivals of the Roman matrons. Etruscan Roman Remains<

She also bears much in common with Themis (below), the Greek Goddess of divine law and wisdom.

According to Ovid, she traveled from Greece to Italy with her son Evander, where Evander founded the city of Pallantium. Pallantium was named after their Greek hometown of Pallantium, Aracadia, and was one of the 7 hills that later became Rome.
Carmenta was famous for chanting her prophecies in verse. Her Greek name was Nicostrate, but when she arrived in Italy, the locals called the singing woman Carmenta, for the Latin ‘carmina’, or ‘song’.

Another explanation holds the opposite: Carmenta predated the Latin word for song, and ‘carmina’ derived from the prophetess’s name.
‘Mente’ meant ‘wise’ or ‘mind’. Car-menta could have meant ‘Car the Wise’. Or as Plutarch suggests, ‘Out of the Mind’, because she acted crazy.
She was associated with artistic and technological innovation and is co-credited for inventing the Latin alphabet (with Al Gore and her son Evander.) There is little evidence to support this, but Latin was indeed based on a Greek variant.

According to Virgil she used her powers of prophesy to choose the best site of the future Rome on which to establish her son. Once she even foretold Hercules the fate that awaited him.

How she came to be the Goddess of Childbirth is unclear. The women’s cult that grew around her was said to have predated Rome. However, Plutarch’s and Ovid’s description of the origin of her temple is more about contraception (and possibly abortion) than fertility.

During the Second Punic War (215 BC) the Roman Senate restricted the rights of women to ride in carriages or to wear certain clothing. This was an attempt to save resources such as horses, fabrics, and gold for the war effort.

But when the war ended, these rights were not reinstated.
The women of Rome banded together and protested, the Lysistrata way. They refused to conceive children. (You can work out the details.) According to Plutrach they:

“kept their husbands at a distance until the husbands changed their minds and made the concession to them.”

After the laws were revoked, the women had numerous prodigy, and built the Temple of Carmenta in her honor.

At the temple the Goddess Carmenta could be invoked with one of two carmentes, lesser goddesses of childbirth, and Porrima–literally, “feet first” and “head first”. Possibly referring to which way the baby was delivered. It can also be read as “looking backward” and “looking forward,” citing Carmenta’s ability to tell the future.

View from Palatine Hill
View from Palatine Hill

All forms of animal skin were banned in her temple. This meant no shoes, no leather, and no animal sacrifice:

For on the day they had received life, they did not want to deprive another life.” –Varro, Cens. 2.2

The Carmentalia festival was unique in that it was celebrated on two separate dates, four days apart. (The second date was on January 15th.)

[The reason for this is uncertain. One theory is that it was originally on the 11th and 13th, but the 13th was the Ides of January. Or, as mentioned earlier, the Romans didn’t have anything better to do in the middle of January.]




Wiccan Spell-a-Day book


Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities

[originally written January 2008]

Voodoo Day!

January 10

Today the people of Benin celebrate the ancient religion of their ancestors, Vodun (Voodoo), in a festival known as Traditional Day, or Vodun Day.

Vodun is a religion of West Africa, and may be one of the oldest religions in the world. It traces its roots to the religious practices of the Yoruba peoples of Dahomey, around what is now Benin, Togo, and Nigeria about 6,000 years ago.

Variants of Vodun spread to the Americas through Haiti and the West Indies during the slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. Haitians continued to observe Vodun religious practices in the early 19th century despite the Christianization of Haiti and the Caribbean by the Roman Catholic church.


Vodun’s reputation in the West was not enhanced by books like Sir Spenser St. John’s Haiti or the Black Republic (1884) which detailed erroneous accounts of human sacrifice and cannibalism, descriptions extracted from Haitian priests under torture. By the 1930s Hollywood had cemented this image of African “Voodoo” in the mind of the movie-going public, an image the religion never fully shook off.

Vodun means “spirit”. In Benin, Vodun recognizes a supreme deity as well a pantheon of saint-like spirits, each of whom is associated with a specific attribute (forests, storms, the sea, war, etc…). Spirits may change from region to region.

Panama Martyrs Day

January 9

On the anniversary of the murder of Raud the Strong in Norway, Panama’s Martyrs Day remembers a tragedy half a world away and a thousand years later. The oppressors this time? The good ol’ U.S. of A.*

On January 9th, 1964 two-hundred Panamanian high school students marched to Balboa High School in the U.S. Canal Zone to raise the Panamanian flag in what was expected to be a peaceful protest.

By the end of that day, twenty-two Panamanians lay dead, and the city was in chaos.

very low-res cover of Life Magazine, 1/24/64, © Life Magazine
Tensions had increased over the early 1960’s between Panamanians and “Zonians,” the term used to refer to the highly patriotic group of U.S. citizens and supporters residing in the Canal Zone. The clash of identities and national pride was symbolized by an ongoing debate about flying the US and Panamanian flags at public institutions within the Canal Zone.

“In 1960, after a series of riots in Panama, President Eisenhower ordered that Panama’s flag should fly side by side with the Stars and Stripes at the U.S. Canal Zone building.”Life Magazine

Other sources point out it was actually Kennedy’s decision to fly the Panamanian flag with the U.S. flag throughout the Canal Zone. However, this policy had not been carried out at the time of Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.

The patriotism of the Zonians was fueled by the recent assassination and by a Molotov cocktail attack on the U.S. Embassy in Panama City the month before.

The chief architect of the Panama Canal Company was suing to prevent the flying of the Panamanian flag at his site, and a temporary compromise was imposed–that satisfied no one and angered everyone. The compromise was to fly no flag, either U.S. or Panamanian at sites in the Canal Zone.

On January 7th Zonian students at Balboa High School in the Canal Zone protested this compromise by raising the U.S. flag at the school. Officials took down the flag, but the students walked out of class to raise it again and posted their own guards to prevent its removal.

Panamanian students with flag 1964

On January 9th a group of 150-200 students from the Panamanian Instituto Nacional (high school) marched from Panama proper to Balboa High to raise a Panamanian flag in protest.

The were met by a large crowd of Zonian students, adults, and police at the high school. The situation worsened as the Zonian students refused to allow the Panamanians access to the flag pole and sang the

An altercation between Panamians and Zonians broke out in which the Panamanian flag was torn. This particular flag had a historical significance; it had been used in 1947 to protest the Filos-Hines Treaty.

Panama students and Canal Zone troops - 1/9/64

“As word of the Balboa flag desecration incident spread, angry crowds formed along the border between Panama City and the Canal Zone. At several points demonstrators stormed into the zone, planting Panamanian flags. Canal Zone police tear gassed them. Rocks were thrown, causing minor injuries to several of the cops. The police opened fire.” — Eric Jackson

The first person killed was Ascanio Arosemena, a 20 year-old college student, who had not participated in the demonstrated, but was on his way to a movie when he came upon the scene. A photo (below) shows him helping to evacuate an injured student moments before he was shot in the back.

Angry Panamanians demonstrators set fire to Canal Zone cars, shops, and buildings, tore down sections of the “fence of shame” separating the Canal Zone, and used Molotov cocktails on the house of the US District Judge. Police initially used tear gas to stop the crowds. Then bullets.

When the onslaught was over, 22 Panamanians lay dead. Six of the them had been trapped when the American Airlines building was set on fire. One victim was an 18 month-old baby girl killed by excessive tear gas. Hundreds were wounded.

U.S. Army officials insisted bullets were never directly fired into the crowd, but one source says claims the military expended 450 .30 caliber rifle rounds, close to a thousand rounds of birdshot, and over 7,000 tear gas canisters.

By 8pm the pandemonium had spread throughout the country including the city of Colon, where riots broke out and three U.S. soldiers were killed.

Panama broke off relations with the United States, and the U.S. action and policy toward Panama was multi-laterally condemned by France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China. The tragedy of January 9, 1964 had long-lasting repercussions which paved the way for the 1977 treaty that transfered the Canal Zone to Panama in 1999.

Torrijos-Carter Treaties

[Another factor that fueled the conflict: President Lyndon Johnson’s notion that Communist agents were inciting the unrest in Panama–as opposed to it being an authentic expression of anger against U.S. policy in the region. Members of Panama’s leftist party were indeed involved in demonstrations, but not in the mayhem that followed.]

It seems remarkable and tragic that a debate over a flag would, within hours lead to a confrontation so bloody.

Statue of dedication - Panama Martyrs - 1/9/64
Statue in memory of 22 Panamanians who died in the fight

But such devotion to the symbolic value of a nation’s flag is echoed in the national anthems of countries across the world. The United States’ own national anthem doesn’t ask about democracy, peace, the President, free markets, or American government. It simply asks “…does that star-spangled banner yet wave…O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Eric Jackson’s The Martyrs of 1964

The History of Panama by Robert C. Harding

The History of Panama (Google preview)



American Heritage article

La Prensa article (Spanish)

Seijin no Hi

2nd Monday in January


Almost every society has a coming-of-age rite, be it confirmation, bar mitzvah, high school graduation, or my favorite: passing your driver’s test.

In Japan that rite is one’s 20th birthday. However, it’s not an individual celebration. The entire nation of 20 year olds celebrate their birthdays on the same day. That’s today, the second Monday of the New Year, Seijin no Hi…aka, Coming of Age Day.

20 is the legal age of voting, drinking and smoking, and the age of civic responsibility.

Young men wear their finest suits. Women wear furisodes, special formal kimonos for unmarried women, which can cost a million yen, or $10,000, although that is coming down.

(Photos © Samurai Dave)

The event is so popular that appointments at beauty salons must be made months in advance, and can set parents back a grand. Within the beauty world Coming of Age Day is an industry in itself. Women will begin arriving at the salons at 5am, and salons are prepared to handle over a hundred women in just a few hours.

In some ways it is celebrated more for the parents than for the son or daughter. Says one kimono shop owner:

“For the parents it is their desire. From the day a girl is born they have the desire to dress her in furisode when she becomes 20 in the seijin shiki, take her picture, and send it to relatives as custom requires. In some cases, the mother herself also wore a furisode she received from her mother in her seijin shiki…

“If they have the possibility of dressing their daughter in a Y1,000,000 kimono it is proof that they have worked hard all their lives and can afford it. It is the result of their life work…But the girls do not always understand their parents’ feelings and they say they would prefer a car.”

A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan – Fashioning Cultural Identity: Body and Dress by Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni)

But Coming of Age day has been adapting to new times, partly from the recessions and partly from new youth culture. According to SillyBoy_in_Japan:

“…the price of kimonos has dramatically increased as most of the kimonos are now made cheaper in China. A decent hand made using Japanese materials can still be bought in Kyoto, and can be quite expensive, but there are few people learning this craft. Once the last of these shops close down, all that will be left are the pre-made, mostly imported kimonos. What also has changed is that 70% of the girls now wear beautiful evening gowns. Think shopping for a prom dress in America.”

Though it only became an official holiday in 1948, Coming of Age Day has its roots in older Shinto and Meiji era traditions, such as genpuku, where boys between 12 and 16 were given a new name and…

“were taken to the shrines of their patron kami. There they were presented with their first adult clothes, and their boys’ hairstyles were changed to the adult style.”

Girls reaching adolescence were given a similar ceremony and dressed in special kimono attire to symbolize to the community their readiness for marriage.

John K. Nelson describes a Coming of Age ceremony at a community shrine in Enduring Identities:

“At the Tsuchinoya purification pavilion, everyone lines up and is purified with a standard, paper-streamer haraigushi…After a short ritual in front of the Honden, the group assembles in the western field to plant a cherry tree, each participant contributing one shovelful of soil to the process. The group then retires to the Chokushiden within the administration building for three formal speeches stressing gratitude to parents, the brevity of youth, and the contributions they will make to society…”


Today a lot of Japanese youth see the pomp and circumstance as more materialistic than traditional. Writes Naoko:

“In the past it probably meant more than today. These days this is just sort of fashion show for tons of 20yr-old, and the day finally they can officially get drunk. However, it’s still nice to see them in colorful kimono with shining hopes.”



Youtube: Beautiful Japanese actress celebrates Seijin Shiki

Youtube: No clue what they’re saying here but…funny