Vernal Equinox, Fall Equinox is one of our most traditional National Holidays. In these holidays we have 2 origins;
One is the celebration of seasonal change typical of an agriculturalsociety. We have a saying "Atsusa samusa mo Higan made" ("Heat and cold last until Higan").
The other; Based on the Buddhist teaching, this Vernal Equinox is also called Higan(on the other side of the shore ,the other world) no Chu-Nichi in Japanese, as is fall Equinox on September 23rd. We visit our family tombs on this day in the middle of the week of Higan to pay our respects to our ancestors. I weeded around my family tomb, and left flowers, lit the incense.
We put sweet "ohagi" to our altar or grave. I reminece my mother made lots of ohagi (sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste) on this day for me and my brother, knowing we are waiting for having them. It is tradition that ancestors' spirits prefer round food. Haha, I had no time to make them today, so I bought ready made ones and enjoyed them.