6 Ways the World Celebrates Spring

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on March 28, 2013.

No matter where you go, each culture has its own special way of celebrating the start of spring. In honor of the season, here’s a list of seven traditional spring festivals from around the world. Enjoy!

1. Holi (India and Nepal)

Holi is a Hindu celebration also known as “The Festival of Colors.” It’s usually celebrated in February or March, and it’s tied to several ancient Hindu stories. In one myth, Prahlada, a devotee of Vishnu, is saved from poisoning, venomous snakes, elephant-trampling and fire through his prayers – You can read more about it here!

During the festival itself, revelers light bonfires and cover each other in scented, colored powders. While Holi is mainly celebrated in India and Nepal, you can also find festivals anywhere with a large Hindu population.

2. Las Fallas (Spain)

Las Fallas

Photo Credit: keith ellwood/Flickr

Held every year in mid-March, this festival in Valencia, Spain is a little different from most seasonal celebrations. It centers around the construction of elaborate figures made of papier mache, wood and wax, often caricaturing Spanish social and political figures — called “Fallas”. Over the four days of the festival, the city is treated to live music, parties and fireworks as the Fallas are displayed to the public. On the final day of the festival, each of the Fallas is burned in a bonfire.

3. Nowruz (Middle East and Asia)

Nowruz

Photo Credit: atramos/Flickr

Nowruz is the Persian New Year, originating in what is now Iran. In the modern day, the celebration has spread throughout the Middle East and Asia. This secular holiday has its roots in the Zoroastrian tradition and coincides with the spring equinox each year. There are multiple myths used to explain the origins of the holiday — usually involving the day the world was created or saved from a harsh winter.

Like most other holidays, Nowruz is a time for family and friends to gather and spend time together. The most important part of the celebration is the setting of the “haft-seen” table, which involves setting a table with symbolic items that represent health, fertility, love and the renewal of nature.

4. Songkran Water Festival (Thailand)

Songkran

Photo Credit: Ben Reeves/Flickr

Songkran is the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year in mid-April. The festival is celebrated throughout the country and in neighboring regions — the most famous of which is held in the city of Chiang Mai. While the holiday has traditionally been a time to honor friends and family, as well as the Buddha, there’s one twist that makes this holiday a little different from others. The Thai people celebrate by soaking each other with water! In some cities, it effectively turns into a five-day water gun battle in the streets.

5. Walpurgis Night (Central and Northern Europe)

Walpurgis

Photo Credit: Aske Holst/Flickr

Named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga, this May Day celebration takes place exactly six months before Halloween. While the celebration involves some traditional springtime activities like picnic lunches, bonfires and carnivals, it’s also known as a day when witches gather to await the arrival of spring. In the Czech Republic, a rag and straw “witch” or a straw broom is burned in effigy, but in Estonia, people actually dress up as witches to celebrate.

6. Cheese-rolling (Gloucestershire, England)

No one is exactly sure how or why it became a tradition to chase a wheel of cheese down Cooper’s Hill  each May. Some speculate that this celebration has its roots in Pagan traditions of rolling objects down the hill as part of a fertility rite. What we do know is that cheese has been rolled down the hill since the 15th century, and that groups of men, women and children compete to catch it — or at least be the first to cross the finish line.

Cooper’s Hill is steep and uneven, so this tradition has its share of injuries — including sprained ankles, broken bones and even concussions. Check out the video above to see last year’s race in action.

Related Stories:
Is Easter Really A Pagan Festival?
5 Holidays We Wouldn’t Celebrate Without Immigrants
3 Tips for Eco-friendly Spring Cleaning

Photo Credit: Debashis Biswas/Unsplash

88 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M7 months ago

As a Wiccan, I have two spring Sabbats to look forward to. There's Ostara celebrating the spring equinox on March 20th, which we celebrate with an egg hunt in the backyard, a lamb dinner with a special dessert treat of fry bread with a sunflower seed/honey spread (I only make that for Ostara and Samhain), and flower seeds and plants in the kids' baskets. Since that's also my younger daughter's birthday, there's also a cake and presents involved. Then there's Beltane (May 1st), celebrating the union of the Goddess and the God. There's no group around here to celebrate the Sabbats with, which is kind of annoying (okay, REALLY annoying), but that's my husband's and my wedding anniversary so we still manage to have a great time with it!

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE7 months ago

Interesting

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Ann B
Ann B7 months ago

interesting somewhat

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Leanne K
Leanne K7 months ago

None sound overly environmentally friendly

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Leanne K
Leanne K7 months ago

That cheese rolling is so funny to watch

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Danii P
Past Member 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio7 months ago

HOLI!!!

thank you Julie...

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Christina S
Past Member 7 months ago

Cool article. The Greeks celebrate Apokreas (literally, without meat) or Carnival in Spring. It is a 3-wk celebration on par with Mardi Gras-Cinco de Mayo-or even St. Patrick's Day. It is a period of partying, drinking, eating, & dressing in masquerade costume while dancing in the streets all night. The last 2 Saturday's psyicho-savata (Sat of souls) & first. Sat of "great lent" are days to remember their dead. All leading to the spring equinox & pascha.

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R7 months ago

Thank you for posting. Which I could celebrate spring here in upstate New York! Hopefully soon.

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