Japan celebrates Hina Matsuri on 3rd March
What is Hina Matsuri?
Every year on 3rd March, girls in Japan celebrates Hinamatsuri (also know as Girl’s Festival or Doll’s festival). The festival is celebrated for families to pray for their daughter’s heath, happiness and success. In preparation for this festival, an elaborate display of traditional dolls will be beautifully lined up in their homes, along with servings of special traditional menu.
Traditionally, newborn babies will be presented with a set of Hina dolls from their parents or grandparents. Hina dolls are usually dressed in beautiful Japanese ancient costumes and are displayed on tiered platforms that are covered with a red carpet. The costumed dolls represents the imperial court of the Heian period (A.D. 794 to 1185) and feature the emperor, empress, attendants, and musicians dressed in traditional garb. The dolls are displayed hierarchically with the emperor and empress at the top. The number of dolls and their size vary from home to home and due to space, single tier display are more commonly seen in Japan homes today.
The highlight during this period will be the Rice wine and Rice cakes, along with flower blossom. Hinamatsuri is also called Momo no Sekku, which means a festival of peach blossoms. Peach blossoms, shiro-zake (white fermented rice wine) and hishi-mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) are placed on the stand with the hina dolls. Hishi-mochi are colored pink representing peach flowers, white representing snow, and green representing new growth.
The festival are traditionally celebrated at home with friends and family. Many people prepare a special meal for girls on this day, including savory dishes such as chirashi, which is sugar-flavored, vinegared sushi rice with raw fish on top; clam soup served in the shell; and edamame maze-gohan, mixed rice usually consisting of brown rice and soybeans.
Other popular dishes to serve at a Girl’s Day celebration are inari sushi—rice-stuffed tofu pockets—with miso grilled salmon and cabbage ramen salad. Sweets are on the menu as well, incorporating a feminine shade of pink, like chi chi dango, which are pink pillows of mochi (glutinous rice flour and coconut milk), a favorite among children, and sakura-mochi, a pink, sweet rice cake. Some families include an impressive edible centerpiece, such as the layered chirashi sushi cake.
Hina dolls are usually displayed from the end of Feb till 3rd March. It is customary to put the dolls away as soon as the festival is over because if the dolls are left out, it is said that the family will have trouble marrying off their daughters. After the festival, it is also common for some people to release paper dolls into the rivers praying that this will send away sickness and bad fortune.
So, do they have Boy’s Day?
Yes, definitely. On May 5, Japan celebrates “Tango no Sekku” (Feast of Banners) or “Kodomo no Hi” (Children Day). Before this day, families with boys will raise carp-shaped flags called “Koinobori”. Similar to Hina dolls, boys will display a Kintarō doll usually riding on a large carp along with a traditional Japanese military helmet, kabuto. Kintarō and the kabuto are symbols of a strong and healthy boy.
Celebrating Hinamatsuri in Singapore?
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