The Star Festival


     Tanabata, or the Star Festival, is held on the evening of July 7. The
     festival traces its origins to a legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and
     Weaver Star (Vega), lovers separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet
     just once a year--on the seventh day of the seventh month.

Children and adults write their wishes on narrow strips of colored paper, known as tanzaku, and hang them, along with other paper ornaments, on bamboo branches placed in the backyards or entrances of their homes. They then pray hard that their wishes will come true.

The Tanabata festival is thought to have started in China. It was transmitted to Japan during the feudal period and combined with traditional local customs to become an official event at the Imperial Court. Commoners soon began observing this festival, with different localities developing their own distinctive celebration.

In Tokyo, most people now decorate bamboo branches with just the narrow strips of paper that carry their wishes. At some elementary schools, pupils attach their wishes to a huge bamboo branch, and others put on skits about the legend of the Cowherd and Weaver Stars. Some areas of Japan celebrate Tanabata a month later, on August 7, since this is closer to the seventh day of the seventh month on the traditional lunar calendar. Such communities frequently perform the services for Bon, a period in mid-August when deceased relatives are thought to return, together with the ceremonies for Tanabata.

As Tanabata approaches, decorated bamboo branches can be seen all around the neighborhood, signaling that summer has finally arrived and that summer vacation is just around the corner.



Morikami Education Department ‘03

Saba Saba literally translated from Swahili means "Seven Seven" or July 7. Saba Saba is a national holiday in Tanzania and is also known as "Worker's Day", "Industry's Day", or "Peasant's Day".

On July 7, 1954 the Tanzanian political party, TANU, the Tanganyika African National Union was founded by Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first president of Tanzania from 1962 to 1985 following colonial rule. TANU was the main political party through 1977 when it merged with ASP (Afro-Shirazi Party) in Zanzibar to form the current Revolutionary State Party or Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

Saba Saba is also the day of the International Trade Fair at the Mwalimu JK Nyerere Fair Grounds near Dar-es-Salaam where farmers show the products and produce to international business. Originally, this fair was held to promote Tanzanian exports and Tanzania would celebrate their agricultural accomplishments for the previous year. The first fair was held in 1963.