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  • Writer's pictureLouise Worner

Tanabata (七夕) Ikebana for Children

Tanabata, (七夕), the Star Festival, is one of the five Japanese seasonal festivals (五節句, gosekku). Held on the 7th July, It celebrates the reunion of star crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi (in some versions of the story he is also referred to as Kengyū) who are permitted to cross the ‘heavenly river’ (the Milky Way) and meet just once a year. However, if it rains on the evening of the 7th July the lovers, represented by the stars Altair and Vega, cannot meet and must wait another year to be reunited. Rain on the 7th July is called "The tears of Orihime and Hikoboshi".

One of my daughters’ favourite Tanabata traditions is writing wish cards which are hung from branches of bamboo. Because bamboo grows straight and tall it is believed that hanging the colourful wish cards on bamboo invokes divine protection.

This year, Tanabata coincided with the start of Belgian summer holidays. After a very slow start to summer, my daughters wished for a sunny summer vacation. They chose bamboo branches from our garden and tied their wish onto it. To maintain the freshness of the bamboo they dipped the cut end in vinegar for a few minutes. After placing the bamboo stem in a vase, they added a flower to compliment the arrangement. Although they struggled a bit with balancing the heavy bamboo in their vases we decided to incorporate the slight accident (the vase tipping over) into the arrangement.  

Cool weather and further rain is forecast for the weeks ahead, so we all hope that their Tanabata wish for a sunny summer holiday comes true.

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1 Comment

Catherine Pelanjon
Catherine Pelanjon
Jul 06

Hello Louise, I always have so much pleasure looking at your site and admiring your teaching talent towards your daughters to introduce them to ikebana. You have a consummate art of making them do ikebana with so few elements and they are always very beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.😍

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