Hina Matsuri (雛祭り, Doll Festival), or Girls’ Day, is a traditional Japanese festival held annually on March 3rd to celebrate the girls’ healthy growth.
The festival originated from ancient practises where people would dispose dolls into rivers, believing that the dolls would absorb and bring away the bad spirit; some people still follow the custom these days by tossing symbolic paper dolls.
Japanese parents would give a set of Hina Ningyo (ornamental dolls, often passed on from generation to generation) to their baby girl on her first Hina Matsuri and would decorate and display the dolls annually to celebrate the child’s growth.
The Hina Ningyo set traditionally consists of 15 dolls which are replicas of ancient emperor, empress and their subordinates; the dolls are arranged in order on a seven-tier platform together with other decorative items and ceremonial food.
Hina Matsuri is also called Momo no sekku, the Festival of Peach Blossoms. Peaches, low-alcohol rice wine and Hishi Mochi (pic) are some of the normal ceremonial food for the day.
Hishi Mochi are diamond shaped coloured rice cakes… pink colour symbolises peach flowers, white for snow (cleanliness), and green for earth (health).
The Hina dolls are normally displayed at home from mid-February; and are often kept immediately after the festival is over following superstition that the girls will have trouble getting married if the dolls are not kept ASAP after that.
Tango no Sekku, the Boys’ Day, falls on May 5th each year; but the festival is now celebrated as Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) and a national holiday in Japan.