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|Mar 3 - Hina Matsuri|
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 07 February 2008 06:38|
The Japanese Doll Festival (雛祭りHina-matsuri), or Girls' Day, is held March 3, the third day of the third month. Platforms with a red cloth (非毛氈, hi-m?sen) are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形, hina-ningy?) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
This is a day to pray for young girl's growth and happiness. It is also called "Momo no sekku (Peach Festival)" because of the peach blossom season on the old lunar calendar.
The custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period. Formerly, people believed the dolls possessed the power to contain bad spirits, and would thus protect the owner.
Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called (雛流し, Hina-nagashi, lit. doll floating), in which paper dolls are put into a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them.
The customary drink for the festival is amazake, a sweet, non-alcoholic version of sake made from fermented rice; the customary food is colored arare, bite-sized crackers flavored with soy sauce.
A popular superstition states that if the family forgets to retire the whole set before the night of March 4, the girl will not marry before the next year.
Most families with girls display "hina-ningyo" and dedicate peach blossoms to them. They are usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor and Empress. The next step contains three court ladies (sannin-kanjo), followed by five musicians (gonin-bayashi), two ministers (udaijin and sadaijin), and three servants ending the bottom row in a five-tiered display. There are also small pieces of furniture, small meal dishes, and other things.