We decorated our ceilings with paper cranes for 2 reasons:
- To lighten the mood and to delight the children
- To celebrate the significance of origami cranes
According to Japanese folk lore, cranes are believe to be able to live for 1,000 years. They are held in high regard and images of cranes were common place. Origami, on the other hand, started off as folded paper butterflies used to adorn sake cups at weddings. They were also offered at shrines in exchange for good luck.
Origami cranes became an international symbol of peace because of one girl, Sadako Sasaki. She lived in Hiroshima during World War 2. In 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Ten years later, Sadako was diagnosed with leukamia, a cancer that was believed to have been caused by the bomb.
In pain and desperation, Sadako desperately folded paper cranes. She hoped that her wish to continue living could be fulfilled when she had folded 1,000 cranes. She had folded 1,300 cranes by the time she died at 12 years old.
Today, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, there is a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane. Her legacy lives on as these paper cranes remind us of how world peace is so precious. Such cranes are now commonly given as tokens of friendship and peace.