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The Japanese Holiday that Celebrates Grandparents

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

September is a great month for grandparents! In the United States, Grandparents Day is Sunday September 8, and some families mark the occasion with calls, cards or visits. But in Japan, the celebration is even bigger. There’s a national holiday to celebrate all elderly people called Respect for the Aged Day or Keiro no Hi. It takes place the third Monday of every September (September 16 this year) and offers plenty of inspiration for honoring the grandparents and other elderly people around you.

There is a Free Lunch for Lucky Seniors

In Japan, volunteers give out bento box lunches to elderly people in their neighborhood on Respect for the Aged Day. It’s a gesture of love and respect that’s easy to adopt no matter where you live. Plan out a simple menu with your kids—maybe sandwiches, sliced fruit or vegetables, and homemade cookies—then do the shopping and prep work together. (The Time Timer TWIST® makes a great kitchen timer!) Once you’re done, deliver your boxed lunches to elderly friends and neighbors or local grandparents. Include a handwritten note or drawing in each box to make it even more personal.

Plan Special Visits or Phone Calls

Japan’s national holiday gives citizens a three-day weekend, so it’s a popular time to plan a visit to older adults special to you. While you may not get an extra day off work, you might be able to plan a special Saturday visit to nearby grandparents or an unexpected weekend with those who live farther away. Not able to travel? Plan a video call with your kids and their grandparents. Encourage them to make a fun sign wishing a “Happy Grandparents Day” or “Happy Respect for the Aged Day.” If it’s the latter, talk a little about the Japanese holiday and why you want to celebrate it.

Encourage Your Kids to Put on a Show

On Respect for the Aged day, it’s the young people who bring the entertainment. They’ll often put on performances for elderly people that might include special dances or songs. This might be a perfect project for a youth group or scouting troop. Ask the kids if they’d like to prepare a show for older relatives or local seniors. Brainstorm show ideas, start rehearsals, and use a Time Timer® Original 12” to keep your practice sessions on track. This is a perfect chance to visit a local senior center or nursing home and share some positive energy. If you’re feeling ambitious, combine the performance with boxed lunches.

Enjoy Your Favorite Senior’s Favorite Show

Japanese media often mark the holiday with special programming that celebrates seniors. While you can’t control your local TV station, you might use this opportunity to connect with a cherished elder by asking a couple questions: What’s your all-time favorite movie? How about TV show? Then enjoy a viewing together and talking about why it’s so appealing. You might just find it’s attached to a few off-screen memories that spark an even deeper relationship. After all, that’s one of the goals no matter how you celebrate seniors!

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