No.182 (2/25/11)

Hina Doll Festival (ひな祭り)

By Nao H. Kauffman
Chief Editor

Hina Dolls Hina doll festival is annually held on March 3 in order to celebrate a girl's happy life with her family. You would see many hina doll festival decorations in stores, which also symbolizes the beginning of spring.

The dolls were originated in two roots; one is belief in substitute, and the other is doll play. First of all, dolls (人形 called Ningyou meaning “shape of person”) were believed as an aptropaic(intended to ward off evil substitute.) People used to create dolls with paper, grass, or straw and expel evil by floating these dolls down the river or in the ocean. Later on, people started using wood and clothes to make dolls. This is called Nagashi Hina (流しびな), some rural areas still observe this custom. Next, doll play called Hina Asobi(雛遊び) was very popular during the Heian period (year 794 - 1192.) This resembles today’s play mother. Gradually, from the paper crafts to the actual dolls, the craftsman techniques were improved. As a result, the custom was naturally changed from floating to displaying. Upper-crust families have cherished hina dolls as their lovely girls grow up and have valued them for bridal trousseau. This is why you will see most of hina dolls nowadays representing the appearance of wedding and bridal goods. Before long, the hina doll was officially established as a girl's seasonal festival during Edo period (1600's through 1860's.) Not only aptropaic substitute but also the symbol of wealthy financial status, the hina doll set became more and more pomp-filled from a single step to three to seven steps setting. Contrary to the old time setting, with the current smaller housing condition, more compact hina doll sets are sold in the marking these days.

Hina Dolls
The best decorating time: February 4 through March 4
* Bearing off bad luck and evil -- It is not good to keep hina dolls out after the season because the dolls are taking evil in the place of your daughter.
* Having a good upbringing -- Teaching how to put hina dolls away at the right time is a practice of raising a fine lady. * Wishing good marriageable age -- Hina doll set can be an expression of your daughter's wedding. As soon as the season comes and goes by putting them out and away at the right time, parents wish their daughter will not miss the right time for her marriage.

Tips: If you cannot put the dolls away for some reason, you can turn the top male doll and the top female doll around. It represents they are asleep or are leaving. Some people enjoy the beauty of the dolls until the March 21 holiday. Due to the humidity in Japan, avoid cleaning on the rainy day.

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