The coming of spring is given much prominence in Japanese culture. And thus, it’s not surprising that Vernal Equinox Day has national holiday status. The day will come on either 20 or 21 March since Japan lies in the Northern Hemisphere.
|2020||20 Mar||Fri||Vernal Equinox Day|
|2021||20 Mar||Sat||Vernal Equinox Day|
Originally, this holiday was a specifically Shinto event, but today, it has been secularised. In 1948, the holiday’s religious significance lost government recognition as part of a “separation of state and religion”. In years gone by, people would engage in special worship of the emperor at the vernal equinox. Today, they are more likely to catch up with friends and relatives they haven’t seen for a long time.
However, some Shinto traditions have persisted. For example, many still visit the graves of their ancestors on Vernal Equinox Day, clean, sweep, and decorate their tombs, and maybe engage in ancestor veneration. This is also a day when farmers pray for “good luck” for their crops. Some clean their house, start a new hobby, or set a new goal for the season ahead. Almost everyone has the day off work or school.