The Girls' Festival

Girls in Japan have their very own festival day, the third day of the third month (or March 3), during which families celebrate by displaying their collections of very expensive and fancy dolls. In many Japanese families, when a girl is born the parents buy one of these dolls. Others are given as gifts by friends of the family. Most sets consist of at least 15 dolls, dressed in fancy ancient costumes. Often the centerpieces of such a collection are dolls representing the Emperor and Empress, along with dolls of the chief government officials. Displays also include elaborately carved or handsomely made tables, chests of drawers, dinner sets, musical instruments, and other accessories. These dolls are among a family's prized possessions and are handed down from generation to generation.

The Girls' Doll Festival is also called the Peach Blossom Festival, and the doll displays are often decorated with peach blossoms. Peach blossoms are said to symbolize happiness in marriage. Also, being round and full, they symbolize the characteristics Japanese value in women: softness, mildness, and peacefulness. Because of these associations, many marriages take place on the day of the Doll Festival. Some people say the Doll Festival is to encourage the girl's loyalty and honor for her family, but it also is a celebration of the Japanese people's love of their children.

Empress Doll