November 15 is the day for Shichi-go-san. Parents take their five-year-old sons (three year olds too depending on the region), and three- and seven-year-old daughters to shrines to pray for their future health and growth while showing their appreciation for the child’s development. The 15th of each month used to be called kishukubi, a day free of goblins, and it was said to be a good day for holding all kinds of events, though not wedding ceremonies. Also, November is a month for harvesting, so people celebrate Shichi-go-san with the harvest on the 15th － the day of the full moon on the old lunar calendar.
七五三の衣装と儀式の意味とは? Shichi-go-san costumes and the original meaning of the celebration
Each Shichi-go-san age used to have a different ceremony and children wore special kimono or clothes for each particular age. The long, thin candy given to children on this day, chitose-ame, also has a special meaning. Let’s take a look at the details.
Girls usually wear hifu (a type of padded vest) with their kimono, and no obi.
Originally boys wore kimono with family crest with an obi and haori vest. These days, however, depending on the region, people put the family crest on the haori and hakama.
Five-year-olds: Used to be the ceremony of Hakamagi. Originally, boys aged five could wear hakama, a formal divided skirt worn by men, for the first time. Usually they wore haori, a kimono coat with the family crest on it, with the hakama. There is also a custom of making the boy stand on a shogi board facing the “lucky” direction.
The Chinese characters for chitose-ame represent “thousand-year candy.” This candy is given to children at the Shichi-go-san ceremony. Chitose-ame is a long, thin, red and white candy, which symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. It is put in a long paper bag decorated with a crane and a turtle, which also represent long life in Japan.