Today is the Festival of Broken Needles in Japan. This festival is a more than 400-year old tradition.
On February 8th each year, women gather at shrines and temples to "bury" or "put to rest" their worn out needles. This ceremony is a way for the women to thank these needles and pins for their good service. At the same time they also wish for progress with their needlework.
The ceremony has been described as funeral-like as the needles are put in soft jelly cakes or tofu. This act symbolizes bringing rest to the needles for their faithful service.
It is also thought that sorrows the women carry are often passed to the needles as they stitch. The needles, in turn, are thought to take away the burden of some of sorrows. Maybe by burying their needles, they are also able to bury their sorrows.