Shinto Holiday Calendar 2015 is about the traditions and customs that are typical of the Shinto community. Shinto community originated in Japan many centuries ago – about five hundred years before the birth of Christ.
Shinto community has polytheistic set of beliefs and principles, and as such there is no single scripture or doctrine that can lay down the different observances that are followed by people who adhere to Shinto faith.
Shinto faith stresses on the innate virtues that a human soul is naturally blessed with. A peculiarity of a Shinto shrine is that there is no specific religious scripture or deity on display.
Shinto Shrines are all about symbolic representations – the altar represents the place where the deities are believed to be omnipresent, jewels and swords represent regalia while mirror that can reflect light is considered to represent the Sun who is considered very powerful and is of course the source of light. Shinto priests lead the ceremonial prayer before the objects on the altar. This prayer I known as Norito, and this is dedicated to all deities at large.
Below we bring for you the the Shinto Holiday Calendar for the year 2015 with a brief yet descriptive narration about the customs that are observed in each one.
- Wednesday, January 1, Oshogatsu (or Shogatsu) – This is the Shinto New Year. To observe this, people visit the Shrine to pray for good luck and to make resolutions to stick to the virtues in the coming year.
- Wednesday, January 7, Koshogatsu – This is the Shinto rite to honor Goddess Izanami, partner of God Izanagi. Together they created the Nature and the Kami (cosmic energies) as the Shintos believe.
- Wednesday, January 15, Seijin Shiki (Adults' Day) – This is the day when young Shinto men and women celebrate the attainment of adulthood. Those who have attained the age of twenty in the previous year are considered to be adults for the purpose. They visit the shrines to pay tribute.
- Monday, February 3, Rissun (Setsubun) – This day when the Shinto community celebrates the beginning of Spring. Traditional celebrations include throwing of beans at the Shrines. The priests throw lucky beans towards the gathering while the people who assemble there attempt to catch them. At homes, the eldest male member is supposed to throw around roasted beans which is believed to send away demons and welcome good luck.
- Tuesday, February 17, Toshigoi – This is the Shinto rite to honor Kami and to offer prayers so that they are blessed with a bountiful rice harvest.
- Monday, March 3, Hina-matsuri (Festival of Dolls or Girls’ Day) – This is the day when girls are honored. Prayers are offered for the health and the well beings of young girls. It is a common tradition for families with little girls to decorate a multilevel podium covering it with red carpet ad placing ornamental dolls on it as per the tradition of hierarchy. Offers like rice cakes, peach blossoms etc are put before them.
- Friday, March 21, Shubun-sai (Equinox Day) – This is the day when the Shinto community embrace fresh new spirits. The homes are given a thorough spring cleaning. People often visit the cemeteries of their ancestors and pay homage and leave fresh flowers as a mark of remembrance.
- Sunday, May 3, Taue Matsuri – This is the traditional Shinto festival of planting rice. People pray for a bountiful harvesting season.
- Tuesday, May 5, Tango-no-Sekku – This is the Shinto festival when prayers are offered for the good health and wellbeing of the young boys. Families with young boys wish for their prosperity and pray so that the boys are protected from evil spirits.
- Tuesday, June 30, Oharai/ Grand Purification Festival – This is the Shinto rite of exorcising evil from the world. Devotees are cleansed and purified from offenses committed.
- Saturday, November 15, Shichigosan (7-5-3 festival) – This is the day when parents of young children pray to God thanking for gifting their children a healthy life and also wishing a safe, prosperous and happy future for their wards. The name of the festival has been coined after the ages of the children. Here schichi denotes seven, go means five and san represents three. Boys aged three and five, and girls aged three and seven participate in the function.
- Sunday, November 23, Niinamesei – This festival originated as a harvest festival. Traditionally, the Royal Family used to perform thanksgiving rituals on this day praying for a good harvesting season and thanking for the crops that have been produced. In the modern connotation, however, when the society is no more chiefly agrarian, this day has turned into Labor Day celebrations where every person who is working is honored.