In Japan, every year on the 3rd of March comes a traditional celebration known properly as momo-no-sekku, but more casually referred to as Hina Matsuri or Girls Day.
Is a day to wish for the health and success of girls. It’s observed by families with girls until they reach adulthood. It’s a day for the girls in the family to take center stage.
Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls.
Thanks to our friends from Japan Talk, we bring you a summary of what The Festival of the Dolls means and all traditions related to Hina Matsuri:
The primary observance on Hinamatsuri is laying out a set of dolls. This is generally thought to be good luck for the girls in the family. The dolls are laid out sometime in February before girls day on March 3rd. They are strictly taken down by the 4th at the latest. It’s traditionally believed that leaving the dolls up past the 4th is bad luck that will lead to a late marriage for the girls in the family.
The dolls are in the style of a Heian period imperial court. Doll sets vary greatly in size and price. Some include dozens of dolls that are laid out on a 7 layer platform according to the status of each doll. Other sets only include the Emperor and Empress, the two most important dolls.
In the past, a Hinamatsuri doll set was the most expensive item that a daughter might own until she gets her first kimono. These days many families choose smaller sets for modern apartments.
2. Doll Floating
Historically, hinamatsuri dolls were put on boats in rivers throughout Japan and sent out to sea each year. This is known as Hina Nagashi or “Doll Floating.” It was believed that any potential bad luck and disease could be transferred to the dolls in a special ritual. With time this seemed wasteful and people started keeping the dolls and carefully packing them away each year.
A handful of shrines, such as Awashima Shrine in Wakayama, still offer Doll Floating rituals each year. The dolls are collected after floating them and burned.
3. Peach Blossoms
Wagashi is a catch-all term for traditional Japanese desserts. The dessert most associated with Hina Matsuri are diamond shaped, tricolored mochi known asHishimochi. Other wagashi such as sakura mochi may also be served.
Whatever desserts are enjoyed for Hina Matsuri are also placed before the dolls as an offering. Some doll sets include plastic food as an offering.