Clothes Changing Day


Image from our Living the Wisdom of the Tao 2016 wall calendar. © Jeff Tzu-chao Lin.

Did your mother tell you to never wear white until Memorial Day? That is an American custom, but in Canada you can begin wearing white after Victoria Day (the Monday preceding May 25).

The Japanese celebrate Clothes Changing Day (Koromo-gae) on June 1. It’s the day that everyone changes from winter to summer attire. Those who wear uniforms—schoolchildren, workers, etc.—switch to their summer versions. But the change also extends to the general public: people put on pastel summer cottons, short sleeves, and sandals (no matter what the weather). There is a special summer kimono (yukata), which is made of cotton and is thus lighter than the usual kimono.

This distinction between summer and winter clothing (the switch back occurs on October 1) was developed at the court during the Heian period and included guidelines for accessories. For instance, women used fans made of paper during the summer and fans of cypress wood in the winter.

Consider how you can mark the shift into summer in your life. With color? With fabric? With sandals? Or something completely different—a new perfume, screens on the windows, putting the top down on the convertible?

Waverly FitzgeraldWaverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”



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