Girl’s Day, also known as the “Doll’s Festival,” is observed in Japan on March 3rd–just as peach and plum blossoms begin coloring the trees, filling the air with delicate fragrance. Flowers are arranged and families prepare a special meal of sushi, clams, and sweet sake to celebrate. More importantly, though, this is a day to wish health and happiness to girls throughout the country.
Delicate peach blossoms are ubiquitous on this day, serving as a central decoration and symbolizing the feminine traits of tranquility, composure and beauty. A set of Imperial family dolls is displayed, as heirloom items or gifts from grandparents presented to celebrate the birth of a girl. Unlike the dolls gifted in the U.S., however, these are not toys. Instead, they are intricately painted treasures, and families often collect hundreds of pieces—from handmaids to the Emperor and Empress. Each is carefully laid out on a tier, in a process akin to setting up a tiny, detailed Christmas tree. Alongside these displayed dolls are celebratory offerings of peach blossoms, rice wine and mochi cakes.
Although my girlhood is behind me, I love Girl’s Day because it honors the wonderment and beauty of being a young girl. As a mother, I feel fortunate to see this magic every day in my daughter. But, as a global community, I believe we still have a distance to journey before we celebrate and cherish girls as they deserve— not just one day a year, but every day.