Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Labor Thanksgiving Day and Niinamesai

November 23rd is Labor Thanksgiving Day, which is a national holiday to praise labor and production and give thanks for the benefits of labor. This day was established after World War II and was originally called Niinamesai(新嘗祭).

Niinamesai is a harvest festival held by the Imperial court on November 23rd. The festival dates back at least to 677. The emperor dedicates newly harvested rice and sake to Amaterasu-Ohmikami, the Goddess of the Sun, an imperial ancestor.

The festival is mirrored by Kannamesai(神嘗祭, from October 15th to 17th). Unlike Kannamesai, the emperor eats these offerings at Niinamesai.

Niinamesai used to be held on the second day of the rabbit in the 11th month in the lunar calendar before the Meji Restoration (1867). It was held on November 23rd after the solar calendar was adopted since 1872.

Originally, Niinamesai was held around The Winter Solstice.  Some people say the emperor inherits power from the Goddess of the Sun(Amaterasu-Ohmikami) and gets new power by eating the offerings.

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