Girls Day in Japan, better known as hinamatsuri (雛祭り) is the third of 5 sekku (節句) or seasonal holidays in the traditional calendar, but it used to be called momo no sekku (桃の節句) or Peach Day, Peach Festival, etc. In the old lunar calendar, it fell every year on the 3rd day of the 3rd month, which then became March 3rd in the modern era. The biggest tradition by far is to put together a special doll set as soon after Setsubun as possible. My wife’s parents brought a nice doll set from Kyoto when our daughter was a baby and every year in February, I bring it out and assemble it:
This is what is looks like when assembled:
The display shows the prince (o-dairi-sama お内裏さま) wedding his bride¹ in traditional style all the way back to the golden era of the Heian Period. Normally such displays can get very elaborate with multiple tiers on them representing the prince’s entourage:
My wife’s parents couldn’t bring over a full doll-set, so we just setup the top tier. However, in my visits to Japan, I have sometimes seen the extended family setup displays similar to this one above. It’s a nice father-daughter activity too. My kindergarten-aged son also likes to help out.
Girls Day and these doll displays are a way of praying for the well-being of the daughters in the family, which traditionally meant starting a new family, prosperity, happiness. It might seem a bit old-fashioned in the 21st century, but even in this modern era, parents still hope for their daughters’ happiness and well-being and it’s a chance for young ladies to be a princess for a day. 🥰 My wife always makes a nice dinner for our daughter using sashimi and other nice treats. I’ll post more on that later.
P.S. The emoji 🎎 is actually from Hinamatsuri, though few outside Japan would normally recognize this.
¹ Notice the bride is also wearing many layers of kimono robes. This style, called jūni-hito-é (十二単) or “twelve layers”, was a gorgeous style worn by noblewomen and their ladies in waiting during the Heian Period, and even used these days in very, very limited situations such as those presided by the Imperial Family. Suffice to say the twelve-layers were very heavy and required help to get in and out of. Lady Murasaki was one such celebrity (herself a lady in waiting) who wore jūnihitoe during formal occasions.