I don't know how I did it, but I missed the Japanese Doll Festival yesterday!
A whole holiday dedicated to dolls and I forgot it!
The Japanese Doll Festival (雛祭り or Hina-matsuri), or Girls' Day, is held on March 3. Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形 or hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
Momma first learned about this holiday as a child while reading Rumer Godden's delightful books, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (1961) and its 1963 sequel, Little Plum.
In Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, "England is the last place Nona Fells wants to be. No one asked her if she wanted to leave sunny India to live in a chilly English village with her aunt's family -- and her cousin, Belinda, just hates her! But when two dainty Japanese dolls arrive at Nona's doorstep, everything begins to change. Like Nona, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are lonely and homesick, so Nona decides to build them their own traditional Japanese house. Over time, not only does Nona create a home for the dolls, but one for herself as well."
In Little Plum, "When Gem moves into The House Next Door, Nona and Belinda think she's stuck up and vow to have nothing to do with her. But the beautiful Japanese doll in her window soon attracts their attention. They name her Little Plum because of the plum blossom decorating her clothes - but unlike Nona's Japanese dolls, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Little Plum seems sad, unloved and uncared for. Will the three girls - and the three dolls - ever become friends?"
The custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period. Formerly, people believed the dolls possessed the power to contain bad spirits. Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called hina-nagashi (雛流し, literally "doll floating"), in which straw hina dolls are set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them.
Families usually start to display their dolls in February and take them down immediately after the festival. Superstition says that leaving the dolls past March 4 will result in a late marriage for the daughter.