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When you fold a piece of paper, you’re essentially changing the memory of that piece.

Eric Demaine in Between the Folds

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that a particularly special day is about to be celebrated. In fact, it’s an especially important one for all those paper folding fanatics out there. For all of those folks who look at a flat sheet of paper and dream of all of the exciting objects that could be made out of it, simply by folding. 

So for those who happen to love the art of folding paper and creating beautiful creations from paper, cloth, dollar bills, napkins, or anything that’ll hold a crease, Origami Day is for you.

It’s time for Origami Day!

History of Origami Day

Origami Day was organized to coincide with the birthday of Lillian Oppenheimer, the founder of the first origami group in the United States. Oppenheimer, who lived from 1898 to 1992, also was instrumental in the founding of the British Origami Society, in addition to Origami USA. But, of course, Origami has quite a long history that goes much further back beyond Ms. Oppenheimer’s influence.

The art of folding paper seems to have arisen in several places throughout the world, including places such as Europe, China, and Japan. This particular form of art has accompanied traditions and celebrations of every kind, including funerals, birthdays, weddings and more. The first known historical reference to a paper model is in a poem, which somehow seems appropriate given that such things are traditionally written on paper. In that poem, a butterfly design was referenced in connection to Shinto weddings. But that’s just one of many ways that these lovely designs were used!

In Europe, it was napkin folding that was all the rage, a tradition that was abundant during the 17th and 18th centuries as a sign of being a good host or hostess. Sadly, this particular tradition would eventually fade out and become nearly forgotten until recent decades, when it is now beginning to see something of a resurgence.

When Japan opened its borders in the late 1800’s, they started incorporating German paper folding techniques, and these two worlds came together in a glorious union.

These days, Origami has been used as a beacon of hope, with the tradition of folding a thousand cranes being done for people who are in the hospital fighting cancer, for instance.

This tradition came from the experience of a young girl, Sadako Sakasi, who developed leukemia 10 years after the atomic bomb was dropped on her village of Hiroshima during World War II. While she was in the hospital, she had heard that a sick person who folded 1000 paper cranes would get well soon, so she decided to do it.

Sadako only succeeded in folding 644 paper cranes before she died peacefully. But people all over the world heard her story and were inspired. They joined together to build the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima. To this day, children from all over the world send paper cranes to be placed at the monument in Sadako’s honor.

Because of this story, the patience and attention to detail that is inherent in the art of paper folding has come to symbolize a beacon of peace, healing and hope for the world.

How to Celebrate Origami Day

Well, celebrating this important day in the world of paper-folding is quite simple really. Simply pick up a piece of paper and start folding it into something amazing!

Okay, so maybe it really isn’t THAT simple, but there are plenty of opportunities for you to use online resources and books from the local library to start making amazing creations out of paper.

Try out these interesting ideas to pay heed to this day, either alone or with friends, family, and children of all ages:

Learn Origami Online

Head on over to the Origami USA website (the organization founded by Oppenheimer) and use it as a resource to learn all kinds of different tips and tricks to making dozens, or even hundreds, of different types of folded paper delights. Find resources for making fun works of art from an acorn or a crown to a dinosaur or a chicken. 

Share Origami Creations

Whether putting photos on social media to share with friends, taking a piece into the office to show off to coworkers, or joining an Origami forum or group online, sharing Origami creations is loads of fun! Let others see that hard work and artistic flare, and get inspired by a community of others who want to share their work as well.

Make Origami for a Special Event

Got a wedding coming up? How about sending delightfully folded origami invitations? How about a birthday? Place settings made from folded paper or napkins could truly be striking. It would even be great to help brighten up a reception, a retirement, or any other celebration by creating beautiful works of art from folding paper (or cloth) napkins) that will impress everyone.

Send 1000 Paper Cranes to Hiroshima

In keeping with the tradition started by young Sadako, it’s still possible to send paper cranes to be placed at the monument. They can be placed on strings of 100 cranes each and sent to: Office of the Mayor, City of Hiroshima, 6-34 Kokutaiji-Machi, 1 Chome Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730 Japan.

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