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Significance of origami cranes


Could a folded paper bird grant you a wish? According to Japanese folklore, yes, if you have 1000. 

I remember reading a book about a bedridden girl, and her grandpa taught her how to fold paper cranes so she would have something to do. After a week, she had a whole room full of paper cranes, and the nurses decided to string them so she could hang them by her window. After a year, she had 1000 paper cranes, and her grandpa told her that she could now make one special wish come true. 

Origami cranes (orizuru) are folded in groups of 1000 and strung along a string so they can be hung from the ceiling as a cheerful and bright decoration. The crane is said to live for 1000 years, so when one person folds 1000 cranes within a year’s time, they will get the blessing of one wish. This is why cranes are seen as a symbol of hope.

One of the most popular reasons for people folding 1,000 paper cranes is to show their support for a loved one suffering from a serious illness. There are several cancer foundations who hold fundraiser events where volunteers come together to fold paper cranes. 

1,000 Cranes of Hope is a cancer awareness campaign that is a project sponsored by Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, an organization that will make a charitable donation for every wish made on the site. The goal is to unite people from around the world in the fight against cancer, and to raise awareness for the cause. 

When I wrote my book, ‘Hold on please, Emily,’ I wanted to allude to the idea of paper cranes being linked to hope for cancer, without being explicit. So, that’s why I used paper airplanes as a symbol in my story. 

I used to fold a lot of origami. My favourite was origami stars, which have a similar backstory of bringing luck and fortune. Whenever I reached a major milestone, I used to fold a jar full of lucky origami stars and gift them to the person who helped me achieve that milestone. Despite folding origami for so many years, I don’t think I ever folded 1000 cranes before. Though, I never actually counted.

If you’ll like to learn how to fold an origami crane, check out the instructions below.

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