Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day)

The beginning of Spring is for the girls! Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, is celebrated every year on March 3rd, which is considered a lucky day, a part of the five season festivals, on the Chinese calendar.  On this religious holiday, parents pray for the wellbeing, happiness, and healthy growth of their daughters. This holiday involves the displaying of traditional dolls, for which it is also called “Dolls’ Day.” This holiday is a very special day for little girls across Japan.

Girl’s day originated in the Heian period (794-1192). During this time, the tradition of displaying and playing with dolls, or hina-asobi, was a way to get rid of evil spirits. These dolls were used as ways to transfer bad energy or misfortune into their bodies to purify oneself. Following this transfer, the dolls were then often thrown away, into a river if available, to get rid of the negative energy. In some areas of Japan this tradition is still practiced and is referred to as “doll floating.” Overtime, the original paper dolls that were used during the Heian period were his style used today.

Today, the practices of Girl’s Day are less strict, allowing for families to form their own practices and traditions. Usually, Girl’s Day is more important to younger girls or a baby’s first Girl’s Day, as families gather to celebrate the birth of a daughter together and gift them by passing down their sets of dolls to the daughter’s family. Other friends and relatives also gift the girl dolls and doll accessories for the big day. Usually the families cook big feasts with traditional dishes that the daughter loves for the guests and the children to enjoy.

The dolls displayed on Girl’s day represent the emperor, empress, and their court from the Heian Era. Families collect these pieces and display them every day, although many people do not have the entire set as China dolls can be incredibly expensive. There are affordable dolls out there, such as the Disney launched line, but the higher-quality dolls still ring up a pretty penny. The dolls can be set up prior to March 4th, but immediately after March 4th ends the dolls need to be put away. Superstition has it that if the dolls are left out after the 4th, then the lights will either have a hard time getting married or will marry later in life.

By Kayley Hill

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