Tanabata, the Festival of Stars, is a Japanese holiday based on a Chinese legend (see Qi Xi) that on the 7th day of the 7th month, the two stars, Altair and Vega, are able to meet across the Milky Way just once a year. Each year, on the evening of July 7th, the Japanese, particularly children, celebrate Tanabata by decorating bamboo twigs with colorful pieces of paper (Tanzaku) on which they would write wishes, sometimes in the form of poetry, and send out a prayer. Some people think of it as Japanese Christmas because of the decorative trees and because it's the time of the year to ask for wishes to be granted, except there is no exchanging of gifts. :-) There is, however, lots of merrymaking and festivals throughout the country of Japan, complete with fireworks. Some cities such as Sendai celebrate on August 7th due to the time difference in the lunisolar calendar, used in Japan until 1873.
Another interesting feature to note: "The custom of decorating a bamboo arose from the belief that if you wrote poems or proverbs on strips of paper and offered them to the stars, you would acquire good penmanship skills."--from Heart of Sword, Get Real About Japan
Happy Tanabata. May your wishes come true!
Read more about Tanabata Festival, www.astronomy.pomona.edu
The Festival of Weaver Star (Tanabata) by Dr. Carmelita C. Corpuz Professor, De La Salle University, Rotary Japan