Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hina Matsuri

Today is March 3rd and it is Girls' Day. Happy Girls' Day to everyone!

Japanese Tradition, Hina Matsuri

We have 5 seasonal festivals a year. They began about 1000 years ago .These are special events where people celebrate the changing of the season and pray for happiness & good luck to God.

I read in a book that in ancient Japan, people would go into a field or mountain to gather herbs and pray to God. These herbs would purify their bodies. There was also the belief that dolls possessed the power to contain bad spirits. This ancient Japanese custom is known as Hina-Nagashi or also known as Nagashibina. Straw hina dolls are put in a boat which will float down a river to the sea, taking troubles and bad spirits with them.

Now, the custom for March 3rd is a festival for girls. The current belief is that the dolls will bring happiness and protect girls from evil spirits. The dolls are displayed in a room where you can pray to God on behalf of little girls for happiness, prosperity, and to ensure they grow up healthy and beautiful. Usually these ceremonial dolls are passed down from generation to generation.

Another custom is to display peach blossoms. which is an auspicious tree. In ancient times it was believed that the fruit would give one ageless youth and longevity. Peach blossoms are a very important decoration of this festival since nowadays, it symbolizes a happy marriage. The blossoms signify feminine traits of tranquility, composure and gentility.

I think this is simple but pretty festival that I hope will continue on for many generations.

Note: Thank you to my friend, Noriko Mishima, for allowing me to post this here. This is part of her business website. Her family has a beautiful flower shop in Japan. The name of the shop is Nos Enfants HANAYOSHI. The link is listed in the recommend URL box. Once you click on that link, at the bottom, there's another link to click on and that will take you to see all the beautiful designs they have.