This summer festival is usually held in July, although occasionally it is held in August. The custom originally began in China, based on the Qixi Festival there. While the theme of unrequited love may be a bit above most toddlers’ heads, the story of Tanabata is basically just that. Two stars, known in Japanese folklore as Orihime and Hikoboshi, are lovers that are kept apart by the Milky Way.
In reality, these two stars are more commonly known in the west as Altair and Vega. Anyway, according to the legend, these two stars have a chance to meet only once a year, and this usually falls on the seventh of July. It’s easy to remember some of the major events in Japanese culture as they fall on numerically easy dates. For example, New Years is the first of January (1-1), Doll Festival (otherwise referred to as Girls’ Day) is the third of March (3-3); the corresponding Boys’ Day or Children’s Day is the fifth of May (5-5) and the Star Festival is the seventh of July (7-7).