My childhood Girls Day doll
Girls' Day is celebrated on the third day of the third month. It is a traditional Japanese folk holiday to honor girl power, or at the very least, to celebrate their existence in what historically was a very male-dominated society.
Also called Hinamatsuri, or Doll Festival, households with girls showcase very elaborately costumed dolls for one day only. These are not your mundane Malibu Barbie or Groovy Girls, but Not-to-Play-With Dolls Specifically for Display and Usually Protected by a Glass Case. but The tradition continues that if one leaves the dolls out past Girls' day, it has serious repercussions on the a girl's marriage-ability. I believe that was made up by someone who was a little overzealous about cleaning.
While it has been replaced by the more generic "Children's Day" on May 5th in Japan, Girls' Day is still alive and well in Hawaii and with ex-pat Hawaii folks, at least judging by my Facebook and Twitter traffic. The traditional Boys Day is be celebrated on May 5th.
Our household's modern version keeps dolls out for about a week. Lately it has also signaled the final clean-up of decorations from Christmas/New Year's/Lunar New Year's and a few errant Easter eggs. And while girls typically receive little cookies or mochi, our girl has opted for Tapioca Express bubble tea drinks.
Celebrate the girls and women in your lives.
Happy Girls Day to all!
Hello Kitty Girls Day boro cookies
Traditional Girls Day dolls on display
Happy New Year of the Dragon.
From 12:00 midnight January 1st until January 3rd, it's all about Japanese traditions. Here's not only what's been going on, but why. For this, I need to recognize my long-time friend C2, who did the homework on the meanings of all the New Year's food. All I knew was that we are supposed to eat it.
Midnight, January 1st
We eat toshikoshi soba (means "year-crossing") so that literally the first thing done in the New Year is together with your family, in your home, and in the hope of a year of good fortune. The idea of being in Times Square on New Year's just doesn't compute for me.
Soba are buckwheat noodles and symbolize a long healthy life and a prosperous family. We add kamaboko, or fish cake, with special New Year's designs. This year, I have ume (plum) branches and blossoms, and kotobuki (寿) kanji. Plum symbolizes new beginnings, purity and sweetness. Kotobuki doesn't have a direct translation, but has a rejoicing/celebratory sense with a wish for longevity.
Ozoni for breakfast
Breakfast January 1st
On New Year's morning, the traditional breakfast is ozoni, a clear hot soup with mochi, mushrooms, soba and then whatever particulars a family includes. One of my friend's ozoni actually includes hot dogs, definitely an Americanized version. Ozoni is supposed to help nourish you throughout the year.
Rest of the Day, January 1st
We spend the day with family and friends and pick our way through lunch, dinner and assorted bowl games. Here are some of the traditional New Year's dishes and what they symbolize:
Sekihan (red rice): sticky mochi rice and azuki. In keeping with a red (azuki)/white (rice) color scheme, it is a celebratory food. This is one of my favorites.
Kuromame: black beans simmered in shoyu and sugar. You're supposed to eat one bean for each year of your age to ensure good health for the coming year and general long life.
Kobumaki: rolled seaweed tied with gourd. Sounds like Japanese "rejoice" (yorokobu, 喜ぶ) and symbolizes joy.
Datemaki: a sweet rolled scrambled egg. It's supposed to look like the sun, another celebratory food.
Gobo: julienned seasoned burdock root. The tough texture symbolizes the Japanese way of life and perseverance.
Nimono/nishime: boiled root vegetables. Includes lotus (renkon), cut so that the holes show, symbolizing that you can see the year ahead; bamboo shoots (takenoko), symbolizing fast growth, and carrots cut into the shape of a plum blossom for fertility.
Tastukuri: dried salted sardines (anchovies) for a good harvest.
Satsuma: mandarin oranges, put on top of the mochi (for good luck) and eaten for a good life.
Wishing you all the good health and happiness for 2012. Eat Well. Be Well.
Today, May 5th, will always be Boys' Day, then Cinco de Mayo.
Boys' Day (5th day, 5th month) is an old-custom Japanese festive day to celebrate, well, boys. Not to worry, there was also Girls' Day on March 3rd (3rd day, 3rd month).
In Japan, this was long ago consolidated to 5/5 as "Children's Day" but in Hawaii, as well as in this household of ex-pat Hawaii adults, Boys and Girls' days are still separate, but equal.
How do we celebrate? By hauling out the traditional Boys' Day decorations--Japanese Boys warrior dolls
, a samurai helmet
(a symbol of strength), irises
, (whose leaves are shaped like swords and therefore, are a symbol of swashbuckling bravery) and flying koi (carp)
. According to the Japanese American National Museum website
, koi symbolize boys because they are 'sprited and lively, and show fighting spirit by swimming upstream. Did they ever get that right!
All will receive some yummy traditional and and modern treat, because it is after all, a celebration day. 'Grown-up' boy gets mochi (for good luck) and cherry blossom white bread (because he likes it and I never buy white bread). For the boy/children, their favorite Japanese soda candy or rice crackers for *both* kids even though it's officially Boys Day. And Calpico for all.
Typically, they also get a token present. When they were little, it was usually some sort of stuffed animal fish, but now it'll be more like a mechanical pencil or an iTune. Such is the life of modern American Japanese kids...
Whatever your traditions--Happy Boys Day and Happy Cinco de Mayo.Eat Well. Be Well.