Shunbun-no-Hi (Vernal Equinox Day)

March 21
In Japan, where the Vernal Equinox is a national holiday, the entire week during which the equinox occurs is called Higan, which means "other shore." According to Buddhist belief, a river divides this world and the next; it is only by crossing the river, which entails resisting temptation's powerful currents, that one attains enlightenment.
The observance of Vernal Equinox Day began during the reign of seventh-century Prince Shotoku. It became a national holiday during the Meiji period. Visiting the family cemetery is a popular activity on this day, and people tend to regard it as a happy event. Although no meat is served during the week, o-hagi, soft rice balls covered with sweetened bean paste, are popular, as is rice and vegetables with a vinegar-based sauce. Shunbun-no-Hi is a day set aside to honor nature and to show respect for growing things.
Japan Information Network, Japan Center for Intercultural Communications
2-7-7 Hirakawacho
Tokyo, 102-0093 Japan
81-3-3263-5041; fax: 81-3-3230-4107
JapanFest-1965, p. 133
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.