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Cat in the Stax: Cherry Blossoms

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

I hope you all had a restful few days this Easter Break, because we’re finally in the home stretch! Keep pushing through your assignments and exams because the last day of classes is just four weeks away. It’ll be here before you know it!

Until then, enjoy the warm spring weather and the colorful flowers. I mentioned in a previous blog post how I love sitting outside during the spring and summer reading a book. Being out in the fresh air, under the warm sun, taking in the surrounding scenery allows me to be present with the moment and to enjoy it. I find springtime especially beautiful with all the leafing trees and blooming flowers. During this season, there’s nothing quite like cherry blossom trees, whose flowers bloom for only a few short weeks.

Japan is known for its cherry blossoms and its annual cherry blossom festivals. These festivals are known asĀ Hanami, literally “viewing flowers,” and are an ancient tradition dating back over 1,000 years when Japanese aristocrats made a habit of viewing cherry blossoms which inspired them to incorporate the flowers in poetry and works of art. Today, people in Japan make looking at cherry blossoms an all-day event. Every year, thousands of people visit parks all throughout Japan’s countryside to picnic beneath the colorful flowers, eating food and drinking sake. Some people bring home-cooked meals, others have barbecues there in the park, and some even order take-out. These festivals are incredibly popular, and Japan’s Golden Week–its busiest travel season starting at the end of April and going into the beginning of May–usually lines up with the blooming of cherry blossoms.

Image by Mark Tegethoff from Unsplash.com

I mentioned that cherry blossoms don’t last long, usually no more than two weeks. Because of their fleeting nature, they have become a symbol of beauty’s temporality. The flowers are often depicted in art to represent the Japanese sentiment mono no aware, translated literally as “the pathos of things” but also taken loosely as “the beauty of things passing,” an understanding that nothing lasts forever.

In America, the most famous cherry blossoms are those in at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., the site of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year’s festival will run from March 20-April 14. The cherry blossoms first arrived in 1912, when Japan gifted 3,000 of these trees to the United States as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The first two seeds were planted on March 27, 1912, by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador. Three years later, the United States reciprocated the gesture by sending dogwood trees to Japan.

Today, the festival attracts over 1.5 million people to view the flowers and attend any of the festival’s numerous events. Sadly, due to increased flooding of the Tidal Basin, 158 cherry blossom trees will be cut down later this spring as part of a project to raise the basin’s sea walls as well as portions of the walkway. Even while construction goes underway, the northern and eastern sides of the Tidal Basin will remain open to the public. And after the project is complete (aimed to be finished in 2027), 274 new cherry blossom trees will be planted to replace the ones cut down.


Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Last Modified: April 3, 2024

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