Hinamatsuri(ひな祭り), also called "Girls' Festival", "Japanese Dolls' Festival" or "Peach Festival" is a time of prayers for the health and happiness of girls. It takes place every year on the third of March. It is also one of the 5 sekku festivals (節句), symbolizing the passing of the seasons in Japan.
For the anecdote, the kanji used for "hina" (雛) can be read "Hiyoko" and means “little bird”.
The origins of the expression "Hinamatsuri”
The term "hinamatsuri" comes from the expression "hina-asobi", which designated a popular game among nobles during the Heian era (794-1192).
As written above, these festivities are also referred to as "Peach Festival". There are 2 reasons for this. First, the Girl’s Festival takes place in March, matching with the peach blossoms bloom. The other reason comes from a popular belief that peaches are able to evacuate the toxins from the body.
The origins of the Hinamatsuri festival
Hinamatsuri festival has its origins in a Chinese tradition. On girls' day, the Chinese performed a purification ceremony near the river. Impurities from the girls' bodies were transferred to dolls that acted as receptacles, and then the dolls were thrown into the river to ensure the girls' good health and good luck.
Correspondingly, ceramic dolls began to be used in Japan from the Edo period (1603-1867).
How to celebrate Hinamatsuri
There are no rules about how to celebrate this holiday. Usually, the girls' parents invite their family and friends over a meal, where traditional rice based dishes such as Chirashi-zushi, Sakura-mochi or Hina-arare (white and pink mochi proper to this festival) are eaten. Before eating, Japanese people can also sing "Ureshii hina-matsuri" ("the happy feast of girls").
To accompany their meal, Japanese people drink amazake, but they can also drink Café Genshin, which is caffeine-free and suitable for both adults and children, and perfectly matches with traditional Japanese dishes!
Kai-awase: the traditional game during Hinamatsuri
This game dates back to the Heian era. A tanka (Japanese poem composed of 31 syllables) is inscribed on both sides of a shell, then these are shuffled with others. The objective of the game is to find the matching pair of tanka.