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The History of Hinamatsuri


Hinamatsuri is also called Momo no Sekku (Peach Festival), but why is it called Momo no Sekku?

 

Sekku is a day that marks a turning point in the season

The first part of the word Sekku (Setsu, when the word gets divided) means turning point of the season, and in the past, various events were held on seasonal turning points to wish for a bountiful harvest, good health, and prosperity of descendants.

 

Typical of these festivals are the Go-Sekku, which occur five times a year and include the following days.

  • January 7th: Jinjitsu no Sekku (Nanakusa no Sekku)

  • March 3rd: Joshi no Sekku (Momo no Sekku)

  • May 5th: Tango no Sekku (Shobu no Sekku)

  • July 7th: Shichiseki no Sekku (Sasa no Sekku)

  • September 9th: Choyo no Sekku (Kiku no Sekku)

 

Peach blossoms (momo) were in bloom on Joshi no Sekku

Among the Go-Sekku festivals, Joshi no Sekku on March 3rd is said to have become today's Hinamatsuri. Around March 3rd of the lunar calendar, which falls on Joshi no Sekku, spring had just arrived and the peach blossoms were in full bloom. Therefore, the name Joshi no Sekku changed to Momo no Sekku, a term that is still used today. It is thought that it was during the Edo period (1603-1867) that the festival began to be called Momo no Sekku.

 

In ancient China, which introduced the Sekku calendar to Japan, peaches were believed to be effective in warding off evil spirits and evil luck. Peaches were also called the fruit of longevity, and eating them was believed to bring about a long life. The Hinamatsuri is probably also derived from the magical power of peaches.

 

Origin of Hinamatsuri

What is the origin of the custom of wishing girls good health on Hinamatsuri? As mentioned above, Momo no Sekku originated from Joshi no Sekku, a Chinese custom of purifying oneself by the waterside on this day.

 

This custom was introduced to Japan during the Heian period (794-1185), and together with Hina Asobi, in which aristocratic girls played with dolls, it is said to have formed the prototype for the Hinamatsuri.

 

Since ancient times, dolls have been used for exorcisms and to ward off evil spirits, and are meant to protect girls and remove impurities. It is said that such customs nurtured by history have changed into the modern Hinaningyo dolls.

 

Hinaningyo dolls were displayed for Momo no Sekku to express the family's wish that no misfortune would befall their children and that they would be blessed with happiness in life. This custom spread throughout Japan and became firmly established as Hinamatsuri.


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