Shinto Holiday Calendar 2016 elaborates upon the traditions, rites, rituals and customs that are upheld by the Shinto community of people. Before we read more about the Shinto Rites and Rituals that make up the Shinto Holiday calendar, let us understand who the Shinto community of people is.

Shinto is referred to an ethnic group of people from Japan who believes in a religion that is more action oriented. Shinto community is also known as kannagara-no-michi, which when literally translated means “the way of the God conveyed from the ancient times”.

The Shinto religion is believed to have been existent since about 500 BC. Shinto people are polytheistic, and they believe in a multiple number of Gods who they refer to as Kami. Shinto people believe in the manifestation of God in various objects – for example, trees, water bodies, fauna, flora, rocks, places etc. They also believe that each person on Earth possesses a part of “Kami” in them. Shinto people uphold the principle that “Kami” cannot be distinguished separately from all that we see around us – be it a person or an object or any other form of being – there is a portion of Kami is everything.

People adhering to the Shinto faith believe that there is goodness in every soul and being, and those virtues should be nurtured. Shinto system of worship or prayer as conducted by the priests is known as Norito, and each prayer is dedicated to all deities instead of any particular one.

A Shinto altar is an interesting sight. For the Shinto people the altar represents the place where all the Gods are always present, and various objects are kept on the altar to represent various beliefs that are nurtured; for example, jewelry and swords speak of all things royal while the mirror is a representation of the Sun for it can reflect light, etc; and the altar only gives these revered objects a distinguished place to be, a place above the mundane world. Shinto people believe that there are eight million various forms of Kami. Shinto beliefs have often been influenced by local and ancient customs and beliefs, and also from other forms of religious practice like Taoism, Buddhism etc. As such Shinto community is divided into various sects, but the basic beliefs and principles remain common.

Here is a comprehensive list of Shinto Holiday Calendar for the year 2016 with a brief idea about the beliefs, rites and rituals associated with each one.

    • January 1, Oshogatsu (or Shogatsu) – This is the celebration of the traditional Shinto New Year. To commemorate the occasion, people visit the Shrine and pray for good luck and also make resolutions to stick to the paths of virtues and avoid the lure of the vices in the coming year.


    • January 7, Koshogatsu – On this day the people of the Shinto Community pray to Goddess Izanami, who is the partner of God Izanagi, for it is the union of the two that is believed to have created Kami that represents cosmic energies and the Nature.


    • January 15, Seijin Shiki (Adults’ Day) – This is the day to celebrate the first step to adulthood. Shinto men and women who have crossed their 20th birthday commemorate this. Visiting the shrine for blessings is a common custom for the occasion.


    • Rissun (Setsubun) – This is the day when the Shinto community celebrates the advent of Spring. Traditional customs involved in the celebration of this day include throwing roasted beans which is supposed to take away all the evils along with them. At Shrines, this is done by priests, while at homes the eldest member of the family perform the ritual.


    • February 17, Toshigoi – This is the day when the Shinto community honors Kami and to offer their prayers so that they get a bountiful rice harvest.


    • March 3, Joshi-no-Sekku or Hina-matsuri (Festival of Dolls or Girls’ Day) – This is the day to honor girls. People pray for the good health and well being of the girls in the family. In honor of the occasion, the little girls of every household beautifully decorate a multi level podium, covered in red, on which various symbolic dolls are nested. To them various kinds of offerings like rice cakes, peach blossoms etc are made.


    • March 21, Shubun-sai (Equinox Day) – This is the day when people remember the deceased souls. This is also the time to get rejuvenated from within. To mark the occasion, the homes are given thorough cleaning. Many people visit the cemeteries of their ancestors taking with them fresh flowers as tribute.


    • May 3, Taue Matsuri – This is the day when it is considered auspicious to plant rice and pray alongside so that a bountiful harvest can be reaped.


    • May 5, Tango-no-Sekku – This is the day when the people of the Shinto community pray for the well being and good health of the boys of the family, and also hope that the boys are always protected from the spells of the Evil.


    •  June 30, Oharai/ Grand Purification Festival – This is the Shinto way of eliminating all that is evil from this world. The people are also cleansed to provide them relief from all the sins that they may have committed.


    • November 15, Shichigosan (7-5-3 festival) – This is the day when all Shinto parents pray for a happy life and good health of all their wards – boys and girls.


    • November 23, Niinamesei – Traditionally this was the Thanksgiving Day for the Shinto community. Normally on this day the Royal Family performed rituals to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest. In those times the society was mainly agrarian, and a bountiful harvest was essential for the survival of the whole community. Today the society is no more solely dependent on agriculture. So the rituals of this day have been modified to honor all those who work hard to contribute towards the society or community.