Japan is now in the grip of Silver Week.
People familiar with Japan will know about Golden Week. This happens at the end of April and beginning of May every year, when several public holidays come together. First, there’s Showa Day on April 29th, then Constitution Day on May 3rd, Greenery Day on May 4th, and Children’s Day on May 5th.
This week, however, is Silver Week. First, it’s a step down from Golden Week, because there are only three public holidays involved. One step below gold is, of course, silver. Second, the first of the three holidays is Respect for the Aged Day, and “silver” is often used to refer to older people, even in Japan.
However, Silver Week is not set to become a fixture. Two of the holidays involved are Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day, and these are both mobile. Respect for the Aged Day is the third Monday in September, while Autumnal Equinox Day is the Autumnal Equinox (surprisingly enough). The equinox is normally the 22nd or 23rd of September, but obviously the third Monday can be anywhere from the 15th to the 21st. This year, Respect for the Aged Day is the 21st, the equinox is the 23rd, and the law specifies that a day falling between two holidays becomes a holiday. Naturally, this will not apply next year.
On the other hand, if Silver Week is good enough for the tourist trade, the law might be changed to make it a fixture. This is what happened with Golden Week. Originally, April 29th was the Emperor’s Birthday, for the Showa Emperor (Hirohito), and May 4th fell between two holidays every year. However, by the time the Showa Emperor died, and the Emperor’s Birthday holiday moved to December 23rd, Golden Week was so well established that abolishing the holiday on April 29th would have been a serious political problem. Thus, it initially became Greenery Day, because the Showa Emperor liked trees, and then (from 2007) Showa Day. At the same time, May 4th was made into Greenery Day, since it was always a holiday and deserved its own name.
So, for this year at least, the Japanese get to enjoy Silver Week in the autumn, as well as Golden Week in the spring.
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