Hina Matsuri

I can’t believe we’re in March already!  It’s like February didn’t even happen.  But that’s a good thing, because it means Spring is even closer ^ ^ Also coming up soon, on March 3rd is Hina Matstsuri (雛祭り).

Hina Matsuri, sometimes alluding to as Doll’s festival, is a day for us girls. Although, I say “us girls”, but unfortunately I’m way too old to be partaking in such an event (^^;; For families that do have young daughters, they will celebrate this day by praying for the happiness and health of their child using a display of dolls.

(image source)
(image source)

The dolls are usually displayed on five levels (but can sometimes go up to seven): the top tier represent the emperor and empress. The second level are three ladies in waiting, followed by male court musicians on the third, and ministers on the fourth. And the final step is reserved for the guards, or samurai, protectors of the imperial dolls at the top. All of the dolls are dressed in Heian period (794-1192) robes, which is when the custom began. During those days it was believed that the dolls were possessed by evil spirits. Thus it became customary to perform what is called hina nagashi (雛流し). Hina nagashi, or “doll floating”, was the act of releasing straw dolls into the river as a way of getting rid of the spirits, sickness and bad fortune. To this day, there are some areas in Japan that still honour this tradition with the use of paper dolls.

Some families will start displaying their hina ningyo in mid February up until hina matsuri. However, ALL families will make sure the display is taken down as soon as hina matsuri is over. Because superstitions goes that families who delay doing so, will have trouble marrying of their daughters later.

On the day, families will offer food and rice crackers to the dolls. One of the most common food associated with hina matsuri is hina arare, popped rice coated with sugar. These are usually pink, white and green: colours reminiscent of peach blossoms, remaining snow and fresh leaves. Remember, the Japanese are very fond of the changing seasons and this is often reflected in their food and events, which is why Hina matsuri is also referred to as momo no sekku, meaning peach flower festival. So you’ll often see peach flowers used as decoration.

I, of course, have never celebrated hina matsuri, but my friend in Japan promised to send me hina arare (as well as other delicious Japanese treats) by post! Sadly, I don’t think it’ll arrive in time for March 3rd, but I’m really looking forward to trying them when they arrive )^o^( And for those of you who also want to try hina arare, Japan Centre are selling some really cute Hello Kitty ones online and in their stores. So although we may not be young girls anymore, why not indulge in some of the food this day has to offer us 😉

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