Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro-no-Hi) is a treasured national holiday in Japan. A day to give respect and honour to Japan’s elderly population, it is always held on the third Monday of September – the 20th of September this year. Respect for the Aged Day has been an official national holiday since 1966, and the purpose of the day has remained the same since then.
When Did Respect for the Aged Day Begin?
Respect for the Aged Day goes back as far as September 15th, 1947, when the mayor of a small village, Masao Kadowaki, gathered all senior citizens and declared that day as a day to respect the elderly in that area. This soon spread across the country and the government then named it as a national holiday in 1966. The day was moved to a Monday in 2003, as part of the Happy Monday System, creating a 3-day weekend for citizens.
How the Holiday is Celebrated
Japan is known for having one of the oldest populations that are one of the longest living in the world. Many communities and volunteers will deliver lunches to elderly people in their area, or offer special hampers with delicious edible goods. Basically, the day involves assisting the elderly in any way possible.
Local organisations often hold special events to help the elderly population in that community, and many schools arrange performances at local nursing and retirement homes to provide them with some unique entertainment! Anything from personally assisting the elderly, to being extra nice and greeting them in the street, this day is a great opportunity to connect with the older generation.
Television channels tend to be dedicated to programmes about ageing and the elderly population. Those over the age of 100, which a surprising number are, are often asked to feature on these programmes and talk about their life experiences and advice for reaching that age.
The colour red is also associated with Respect for the Aged Day for a number of reasons. National holidays are referred to as ‘red days’, as they are printed in red on the calendar. Additionally, individuals wear red on their 60th birthday. The reason for this is that after the age of 6o, people are ‘born again’ as a baby (aka-chan) which translates to the ‘red one’. Because of these ties to the colour red, the elderly tend to wear red on Respect for the Aged Day.
For those who wish to give gifts to close elders around them, traditionally these tend to be in the colour red. You can celebrate Respect for the Aged Day by presenting one of your elderly loved ones with an authentic red gift. A Red Kimono perhaps? Or you could treat your grandparents to our Happy Life Kokeshi Doll Set!
We hope you’ve learned something about Keiro No Hi, or Respect for the Aged Day. Check out our blog to learn more about Japanese culture and festivals or, if you’d like to treat an older loved one, why not have a look at our range of Japanese gifts for grandparents?