December 5 is the Day of the Ninja, a day to honor and celebrate the sneaky and stealthy masked warriors in black garb from ancient Japan.
Legend has it that this unofficial holiday was created in 2003 to commemorate the release of Tom Cruise’s movie, The Last Samurai.
Ninjas were professional spies in Japan. Active between the 13th and the 19th century, a ninja's job included infiltration, sabotage, espionage, and even assassination.
While popular culture is full of stories about ninjas, usually featured as cunning, secretive, brave, and skillful fighters, there are very few historical accounts of them. Historians believe that in the Japanese society ninjas were not considered to be part of an elite class of fighters - that place was reserved for the samurais. Because of this, ninjas were often recruited to do unsavory tasks like arson and terrorism.
Did Not Dress in Black
In those days, a ninja, also known as a shinobi, did not wear the all black outfit ninjas are depicted wearing today in films, TV shows, and comic books. After all, one of the main tasks of a ninja as a spy was to infiltrate by blending into his surroundings. They would often dress as the locals to do their job.
The secrecy surrounding ninjas led to the rise of legends about their skills and powers - something that has now become a part of popular culture. Modern day depictions of ninjas show them having superhuman powers such as invisibility, ability to walk on water and shape shift.
How to Celebrate?
Watch ninja movies or have a Teenage Mutant Ninja marathon.
Have a ninja themed party. Everyone dresses like a ninja.
Go to work dressed as a ninja and sneak up on your coworkers and friends.
Did You Know…
…that contrary to popular belief, ninjas were not all men? Women ninjas were known as Kunoichi.