In Japan there is a day called Girls' Day.
Families with girls put out special dolls.
They visit each other to see the doll displays.
There is a Boys’ Day too.
Fish kites fly outside homes that have boys.
There is one kite for each boy in the family.
A celebration is a happy time when people get together in honour of something special.
Different religions or countries each have their own celebrations or way of celebrating.
There are children's festivals in Japan that have been celebrated for centuries.
On March 3rd every year in Japan the Doll Festival, or Girls' Day, takes place. In the Japanese language the festival is called Hina matsuri (say hee-nuh mat-soo-ree). Hina means 'doll' and matsuri means 'festival'. The festival, on the 3rd day of the 3rd month, is held in early spring.
Families with daughters make a display of special dolls. They start a few weeks before March 3rd. Hina Matsuri is a way to pray that their daughters will grow up healthy and happy. On Girls' Day girls dress in their best kimonos (Japanese traditional clothes), and families visit each other to admire the displays. They often have a small party. Boys are their sister's guests on this day.
The dolls are not the kind of dolls you play with, but are only for looking at, and for most of the year they are packed away safely. The dolls are dressed in the very fancy outfits that Japanese people in the royal palace used to wear many hundreds of years ago.
Most doll displays have an emperor and empress doll, and many often have dolls dressed as people of the royal palace as well. Some displays include musicians of the royal court. A very fancy display will have around 15 dolls arranged on 7 levels, with the emperor and empress on the top. Families add sweets, cakes, peach blossoms and tiny furniture. The cakes are special rice cakes coloured pink, white and green. The pink means peach blossoms, the white is the melting snow and the green is the new green leaves that come after the blossoms.
In many families, the dolls are very old and have been used for many years from when parents and grandparents were children. Sometimes when a woman marries, she takes her dolls with her to her new home so she can use the same dolls when she has daughters.
On May 5th every year is a boys’ festival known as Boys’ Day or Children’s Day. It celebrates the health and happiness of all children, but many people still call it Boys’ Day. Special fish-shaped kites or windsocks, fly outside houses where there are boys, one for each. The windsocks are called koinobori. The fish is a carp, which is a strong and determined fish that can swim upstream against the current and leap up waterfalls. The carp represents the strength and character of the family’s sons. The windsocks are also hung as street decorations.
Inside the house soldier dolls are displayed: traditional ancient warriors such as the Samurai who showed courage and strength.
Special foods are eaten on this day, such as Kashiwa mocha, a rice cake steamed with sweet beans and wrapped in a leaf.