What is “Doyo-no Ushi-no Hi (土用丑の日)”
“Doyo (土用)” is the period of 18 days before the first day of spring according to the traditional lunisolar calendar (approx. Feb. 4), the first day of summer (approx. May. 6), the first day of autumn (approx. Aug. 8) and the first day of winter (approx. Nov. 8), and it is the change of seasons.
“Ushi-no Hi (丑の日)” is the day of the ox, and this day comes in a 12-day cycle.
“Doyo-no Ushi-no Hi (土用丑の日)” is the ox day during the Doyo (土用) periods.
Japanese people tend to think that speaking of “Doyo-no Ushi-no Hi (土用の丑の日), it is the event to eat eels in Summer.
Why Japanese People eat eels on this day?
Generally speaking, the Ox day during doyo indicates the summer one, It is very hot around this time, so on this day, people eat eels to keep up their stamina.
This custom started in the Edo era. Somebody (there are several opinions as to who it was, but Gennai Hiraga / 平賀源内 is the most likely) said that it is good to eat eels (unagi / うなぎ) on this day for the benefit of an unpopular eel shop. Then, people started to eat eels.
Now, all the supermarkets sell more eels than usual on this day.
Japanese annual events and eating something has a letter “u (う)” in its name is quite common.
People eat some food with a letter “n (ん)” such as “daikon (Japanese radish)”, “ninjin(carrot)”, “nankin another name of kabocha (pumpkin)” etc…, because “n” is the last character in hiragana order. Since it is the end of hiragana, people gave the same meaning as the day of “touji (the winter solstice).
Category : text @en