Labor Thanksgiving Day is a Japanese holiday that is centered around paying respect to laborers and giving thanks to people that deserve it.
|2019||23 Nov||Sat||Labour Thanksgiving Day|
|2020||23 Nov||Mon||Labour Thanksgiving Day|
The celebration is a public holiday that falls on November 23rd every year. Known as Kinro Kansha no Hi in Japanese, Labor Thanksgiving Day is a time for families and friends to get together and show appreciation for the things that matter most to them.
A Celebration of the Fall Harvest
Labor Thanksgiving Day has an extensive history that dates back as far as 660 BCE. When the holiday first began, it was a celebration of the fall harvest. This celebration was accompanied by a harvest ritual by the Japanese emperor and the Royal Court. This ritual was known as Shinjo-sai and involved the Emperor tasting the first rice of the harvest and honoring the harvest for the spirits, or kami. Emperor Jimmu, the Japanese ruler that was alive from 660 BCE until 585 BCE, was the first monarch to participate in the ritual. While Thanksgiving can be dated back to the reign of Emperor Jimmu, it was not a widely celebrated holiday across Japan until Emperor Seinei ruled Japan from 480 AD until 484 AD. During the time of Seinei, harvest rituals were held every year. The people of Japan also used Thanksgiving Day as a time to reflect on work throughout the year.
The Modern Holiday
The Thanksgiving Day holiday in Japan continued to be a celebration of the fall harvest and work until 1948. During this time in history, Japan had evolved from an agrarian nation to an industrial one. Because most of Japan’s citizens were workers instead of subsistence farmers, it was more relevant to celebrate labor instead of the fall harvests. The modern holiday is also linked to the drafting of the new Japanese constitution after World War II. In the years prior to the Second Great War, Japan’s government was becoming increasingly totalitarian. As a direct result of this, laborers had limited protections against poor working conditions and exploitative foremen. After Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces, Emperor Hirohito worked with the Americans to create a new constitution and government system for his country. The new system beckoned in a new era of rights for Japanese citizens. After the new constitution was implemented, Japanese laborers and other citizens were protected by human rights. Japan’s Thanksgiving holiday is similar to International Labor Day, a celebration that honors protesters who were killed at the Haymarket Massacre.
While Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan is widely celebrated, the holiday is not noticeable in public places. There are no large parades, decorations, or other indications of Labor Thanksgiving Day. Instead of large festivals, families have modest celebrations within private residences.
Labor Thanksgiving Day is not centered around patriotism, politics, or any other themes for most people that observe the holiday. Although most people will not engage in discussions about political discussions during Labor Thanksgiving Day, many labor organizations will use the holiday as a time to discuss accomplishments and future goals.
Many nations have days that are dedicated to being thankful, but Japan’s Thanksgiving Day takes that notion a bit further. On Labor Thanksgiving Day, people often go out of their ways to offer a sign of appreciation to public employees like firemen, police officers, and government officials. This is most commonly seen in the form of art and letters from young children and students.
Gathering with Friends and Family
On Labor Thanksgiving Day, many Japanese people reunite with their friends and family to enjoy a meal and good company. At these gatherings, people tell stories and reconnect after a year of hard work. In addition to honoring laborers, Labor Thanksgiving Day also serves the purpose of keeping families connected as family members move to other cities and faraway places for work.
Comparing Japan’s Holiday to Western Versions
In many ways, Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day is similar to the Thanksgiving holidays of the United States and Canada. All versions of the Thanksgiving holiday were created as a celebration of the fall harvest. All of the versions also evolved into a day of giving thanks for more relevant concepts as society changed. Japan’s holiday is also very different from its Western counterparts. Unlike the Thanksgiving holidays of America and Canada, Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day is not oriented around large feasts. Instead, many Japanese people enjoy a fairly normal meal with their guests and family members.
Variations of Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan
Some people in Japan have adopted a westernized version of Thanksgiving. These individuals often host large parties that are centered around a potluck feast. While these feasts may have turkey and Western dishes, it is common to see a wide array of multicultural cuisines. In areas of Japan where there is a high population of Americans or Canadians, restaurants often offer feasts with traditional American Thanksgiving dishes.
Labor Thanksgiving is a Japanese holiday that is centered around recognizing workers’ rights.