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Hina Matsuri - Doll Festival/ Girl's Day

         Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival), also known as Girls Day occurs on March 3. Usually when a girl is born (or on her first Girls Day) her grandparents gift her of Hina Dolls. This is how her collection is started; they are often passed down through generations. The dolls are representative of the ancient high court, and strictly for "viewing/admiring", not playing. Girls Day is when prayers are said for young girls' health, growth and happiness; they will usually be dressed in formal kimono and make a visit to the local shrine. Parties will then be held back at home, with the girls still dressed in their finery, to admire each others' doll collections, drink sweet sake and eat specially made sushi, mochi, and wagashi (Japanese sweets), which usually are made as offerings to the dolls.

        The doll collections are often displayed in the tokonoma (home altar area), or other place of honor, of the main room of the home, and arranged on a step/tier display stand that is covered in red. The Emperor and Empress are at the top, with the lower stages holding the other members and attendants of the court. The display will usually have peach blossoms dedicated to it as well, symbolizing wishes for happy marriages.

        It's thought that the custom comes from an ancient Chinese practice of girls making paper dolls and then floating them down a stream to carry away bad luck. In the Japanese custom, the doll display begins to emerge in the middle of February with the full display complete by the third day of the third month. However - once today is over, the dolls don't linger - since the superstition is that if the dolls are not put away promptly, the family will have difficulty in marrying off their daughters.

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Last updated 11/2013 © 1998 - 2014 G. Thompson/PuffinStuff, Inc.