Spring is in the air! Though it brings allergies and wet weather, it also signals the birth of new life, the start of longer days and lots of cause to celebrate. All over the world, people participate in spring traditions that signal the end of the icy clutches of winter (although, to be fair, there are good reasons to appreciate winter, too) and the start of a new period of long-awaited warmth and sunshine. Whether they’re burning effigies of winter goddesses or tying hand-crafted bracelets around their wrists for a whole month, spring enthusiasts have been ringing in the season in all sorts of wonderful ways.
Here are some of the most quintessential, unconventional and quirky spring traditions and celebrations from around the planet.
Around The World In Spring Traditions
Holi is a festival rooted in the Hindu tradition of northern India that’s celebrated by people all over the world. During the full-day (and often all-night) celebration, people throw colored powder of all different hues on each other to signify the coming of spring. It’s sometimes called the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love,” as people come together to let go of their resentments for a day and rejoice in the triumph of good over bad.
Though plenty of students in other countries have spring traditions of taking a break from school for a week or so, the classic crazy spring break bonanza is American-born, and if you ever go on one of these raucous and rowdy trips, you might find that the movie trope of scantily-clad, trashed students with red plastic cups isn’t all that untrue. Spring break is a yearly tradition during which many students hit the beach, traveling south for a week of parties and sunshine in places like Florida,the Caribbean or even further south to Mexico or Central America.
Each year, often on March 21 or the fourth Sunday of Lent, Polish people burn and drown an effigy of the Slavic goddess Marzanna, a representation of winter and in some interpretations the “death-state” of Earth. The custom, rooted in pagan rites from before Christianity’s spread, is meant to signal and symbolize the end of the miserable winter. The Marzanna dolls are typically made from sticks, straw, old clothes and rags.
The designated New Year’s celebration in Thailand, the Songkran Water Festival is considered one of the world’s most chaotically fun spring traditions and has been dubbed the “ultimate water fight.” It’s a time for the Thai people to spend time with family, visit temples, party and most importantly, douse and drench each other (and the half a million tourists who visit every year) with water from plastic guns, buckets and hoses. The celebration takes place shortly after the spring equinox and lasts up to a week long, especially in the northern city of Chiang Mai, generally considered the epicenter of festivities.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In what’s known as Cimburijada, or the “Festival of Scrambled Eggs,” Bosnians in the town of Zenica gather by the Bosna river to celebrate the coming of spring by sharing eggs with friends, family, neighbors and visitors. People congregate early so as not to miss the festivities, sometimes pitching tents the night before, and even jumping and swimming in the river at sunrise.
The Greek tradition of Marti or Martis (μάρτης) harkens back to Ancient Greece and is a springtime ritual popular with children, especially in the rural areas of the country. Bracelets made of white and red thread crafted by mothers are supposed to be worn from the first of March until the end of the month without being taken off. The myth behind the bracelets says that they help protect children’s cheeks from the intense rays of the sun. The red is thought to symbolize rosy cheeks, and the white is the pale complexion.
One of the world’s oldest spring traditions, Hanami, which literally means “flower viewing,” is a weeks-long appreciation of the beauty of Japanese cherry blossoms — stretching back to around the 9th century. People celebrate the resurgence of spring by picnicking and hosting parties under the blooming trees, often getting tipsy into the later hours of the night and even singing karaoke and dancing. There are also more traditional, wholesome elements, like the writing and recitation of poetry that characterized the ancient festival.