Each year on March 3, we celebrate the "Hinamatsuri".
It is a Japanese traditional festival, in which we display dolls ornately dressed in Japanese traditional attire and families gather together to have special dishes.
In this article, we will tell you about Hinamatsuri festival in more detail and share 3 Hinamatsuri foods that we commonly eat.
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What is Hinamatsuri?
Celebrated on March 3, Hinamatsuri is the first sekku (seasonal festival) of the year. Officially, it is called "Joshi no sekku (Double Third Festival)." But we usually refer to it as "momo no sekku (Peach Festival)" since the peach trees bloom around the beginning of March.
Hinamatsuri festival started as a purification ritual to ensure good health. As time passed, it became a ceremony for wishing good health and development of young girls. There is a long tradition of displaying dolls during Hinamatsuri. It is even mentioned in ancient Japanese literature such as "The Tale of Genji (1008)" and "The Pillow Book (1001)." It means that Hinamatsuri has been celebrated for more than 1000 years.
But it wasn't until about 600 years ago in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), that we celebrated the first sekku on March 3. In 1692 during the Edo period, a huge elaborative Hinamatsuri festival was organized at the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which influenced how we celebrate it today with ornate displays.
In addition to displaying figurine dolls, it is common to celebrate it with special seasonal foods.
The typical Hinamatsuri foods include: chirashi sushi, clam soup and hina-arare (sweet rice crackers).
Hinamatsuri is an exciting event for Japanese families, especially for girls who enjoy displaying and admiring beautiful dolls.
3 Hinamatsuri Dishes
Here are 3 special Hinamatsuri foods that you can try.
Chirashi Sushi is a dish made of sushi rice flavored with vinegar, sugar and salt, on top of which you can put any ingredients that you like. The common ingredients are sashimi raw fish, kinshi tamago (shredded egg crepe), shrimps, lotus roots, beans, sliced green shiso leafs or sliced seaweed.
Each ingredient has a special meaning, and we usually choose ingredients that bring luck for special events like this. The curved shape of shrimps reminds us of hunchbacks of elderly people, therefore suggesting longevity. Lotus roots have holes through which we can see the future, therefore suggesting good prospects. We call beans "mame" in Japanese, which has another meaning "dedicated". Eating beans, therefore, suggests keeping good health so that we can continue dedicating ourselves to work.
Chirashi sushi is a common festive dish in Japan, because of its colorful and cheerful appearance.
Clear Clam Soup
Clam shells represent unity, since only the paired shells fit perfectly together. It is therefore considered as a food that brings a happy marriage or good luck in finding a spouse.
Clear clam soup is made of clams cooked slowly in low heat, with water, dried kombu kelp and a small amount of sake. Seasoned with only salt or light soy sauce (usukuchi), we can enjoy the delicious flavor of clams.
It is also called "ushio-jiru (seawater soup)" because the soup has a delicious taste of seafood from clams and kombu kelp.
Hina-arare is rice crispy snacks made of fried sticky rice or mochi rice cake, sweetened with powdered sugar or flavored with salt or soy sauce.They are colored in green, yellow or pink, to make them look festive.
The colors green, yellow, pink and white represent the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. They suggest the hope for happiness throughout the year.
Enjoy the special Japanese festival dishes!
Hinamatsuri is a favorite festival that both children and adults enjoy together. Enjoy this special festival like Japanese, displaying dolls and eating delicious festival dishes!