Children's Day is a national holiday on May 5th that began in 1948. The day, originally known as "Boys Day", hosts the Japanese Boy's Festival and was a day to pray for the health and growth of boys; the notion has since been expanded to include girls and encompasses children in general.
As part of the festival, it is Japanese tradition for families with boys to hang up carp flags (koinobori) outside their houses, one flag for each child/boy. These flags refer to a Chinese legend that a carp that successfully swims upstream becomes a dragon.
Samurai dolls called "May Dolls", dolls of the legendary hero Kintarō riding on a large carp, and the traditional Japanese kabuto helmet, are also displayed in houses on this day.
- The day was originally celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the Chinese calendar. After Japan's switch to the Gregorian calendar, the date was moved to May 5th (5th day of the 5th month).
- There is a long tradition, from the 8th century, to celebrate children's day twice a year; March 3rd for girls and on May 5th for boys. On March 3rd, also known as the Doll Festival, Japanese people decorate their households with traditional Heian Period doll sets and plum blossom, and drink Amazake. On May 5th, also known as 端午の節句 (tango-no sekku), they fly carp streamers outside, display Samurai dolls, and eat chimaki.