Girls day – Hina no Sekku
There is no place in the world where symbolism and traditions are mingled more in everyday life than in Japan. Well before a holiday is on the agenda, preparations start with utmost care and attention to the smallest details. The third day of the third month is one of these holidays that requires full attention. On 3 March, Japan celebrates the doll festival for girls called Hina-matsuri. The event is also known as ‘Momo no sekku’, which literally means peach blossom festival, as peaches often start to grow around this time. Traditionally, Hina dolls are displayed together with peach blossoms, symbolic for happiness in marriage and feminine virtues such as grace, beauty and gentleness. Girls dressed in pretty kimonos treat their friends and relatives to a sweet drink called “Shirozake” and serve diamond shaped rice cakes known as “Hishimochi”.
Tradition of Girls Day
Traditionally, parents or grandparents gift a new born girl a set of gorgeous Hina dolls, or pass them on from generation to generation. Moreover, the Japanese believe that any Hina doll display should be put away right after the festival; otherwise girls might have to wait longer to get married.
The dolls are dressed in ancient court costumes of the Heian period (794 – 1191). A set of Hina-dolls usually consists of at least 12 dolls. The dolls that are most valued are the Dairi-sama, which represent the Emperor and Empress in resplendent court costumes of silk. They are assisted by their two ministers, three court ladies and five court musicians, with every single one designated to a tier of steps. The Imperial couple occupies the top step, court ladies, banquet trays and dishes occupy the second step, and the other dolls are displayed on the lower tiers. Hishi-mochi (diamond shaped rice cakes) are placed on the stand as well. These cakes are coloured in pink, white and green, implying peach flowers, snow and new growth.