喜寿 word origin and importance


#1

I just learned the word 喜寿 here on WaniKani, meaning 77th birthday. I went to a monolingual dictionary hoping to get an explanation of why the 77th birthday is so important to get it’s own word (no less from the kanji for happiness and longevity), but it just gave the definition.

I found this article that explains how ages used to be counted long ago (数え年), gives other special ages, and explains how to celebrate. But as far as I can tell, it doesn’t explain why these ages deserve special celebration. I found another article that seems to explain the origin of the original cursive character for 喜寿 (which now that I’ve read the description, I realize it was explained in the Goo dictionary entry as well, just more concisely), but as far as I can tell it doesn’t explain the origin of why 77 (and the other ages) are important.

Does anyone have prior knowledge of this? Or could someone with a stronger ability to read Japanese help me search for an answer?

Thanks!


#2

http://www.sljfaq.org/afaq/special-birthdays.html


#3

That is really cool! I’d never heard of those older special birthdays before.


#4

There are also “unlucky birthdays” called yakudoshi (厄年). Does anyone know of people in Japan who actually celebrate these? I have one friend (she’s only half Japanese, but grew up in Japan) who never heard of any of these special birthdays. I’m not sure if her family just doesn’t celebrate them or if it’s a tradition that going out of style?


#5

The lucky/unlucky years differ a little bit depending on stuff like birthday/birth year/fire/water/ etc…

A few people in my Japanese circle of friends are really big about fortune telling and horoscopes, so I play and get them told too.

Which is a lot more popular to do compared to say the States (getting your fortune told), makes sense though. There are a lot more old temples/shrines/etc… compared to living in ol’ rural Wisconsin.