The 3rd of March is the girl’s festival. People decorate Hina dolls and invoke their daughter’s good health and growth.
But, originally this event was not for girls. It originated in China. Around AD 300, An event “Joshi-setsu (上巳節)” was begun. “Joshi (Jomi / 上巳)” means the day of the Snake (the sixth of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac) early in March. People used to think that devils tend to come inside of houses or their bodies when the seasons change, so they used to purify themselves at the waterside.
Japanese envoys to China during the Tang Dynasty brought this custom back to Japan. Japanese people had a custom of purifying themselves with water before that, and these two customs were joined.
(Photo: Kyokusui-no En at Sengan-en / © K．P．V．B)
Later, people started to hold “Kyokusui-no En (providing poems in front of a stream / 曲水の宴)” as an event to purify Joshi. They also started another custom which they remove their uncleanliness and bad luck into dolls made with paper, straw and grass (tachi-bina), and float them away.
This custom spread throughout the samurai class, and the Tokugawa shogunate established “Joshi-no Sekku (the seasonal festival of Joshi / 上巳の節句)” as one of five seasonal festivals. Then, this day became “The Girl’s Festival (Hina-matsuri / ひな祭り)” as opposed to “The Boy’s Festival” which is held on the 5th of May.
They also used to make dolls to keep evil spirits away from their children.
The Girl’s Festival is also called “Momo-no Sekku (a seasonal festival of peach blossom / 桃の節句)”. This is not only the season of peach blossom, but peopel used to think that peach trees were holy trees which remove devils.
On the other hand, in the Heian period, the noble class girls used to play with paper dolls (Hina / Hiina asobi). “Hina” means small and cute things.
Later, people begun to make a pair of man and woman dolls to remove people’s bad luck on them. Doll making skill had progressed, and gorgeous dolls started to be made. People started to decorate the dolls rather than float them away. Upper-class people started to give gorgeous hina dolls as one of a bride’s household effects, and people liked the dolls in wedding costumes and wedding items.
Hina dolls became a symbol of the financial power of the family.
Thus people started to buy hina dolls to remove baby girl’s bad luck, and to celebrate the girls’ festival invoking girls good health and growth.
Category : text @en