Say farewell to the cold and start looking towards summer with these 10 spring words from around the globe.
1. Cemre (Turkish)
Translation: literally “ember”; the advent of spring.
Turkish draws heavily on folklore to give meaning to everyday life. Cemre is one of those multidimensional words that’s deeply rooted into the Turkish psyche.
According to traditional Anatolian beliefs, spring can only arrive after three fireballs have fallen from the heavens. The first fireball falls during the third week of February and warms the air. The second fireball falls around the end of February and warms the water. The third and final falls in the first week of March to warm the earth — after which spring has arrived!
2. Floraison (French)
If you were making a list of beautiful spring words, floraison would certainly come to the fore. After all, who doesn’t love the sight of blooming flowers after a long cold winter?
If you’re visiting France in the spring, watch out for the violette des bois (wood violet) introduced to France by Napoleon III in the mid-19th century. To admire this enchanting flower in its full glory, head over to Toulouse, which is also known as the City of Violets.
Other flowers include the muguet (lily of the valley), which tradition states is offered to a loved one on the first day of May. There’s also the paquerette (daisy), a flower that blossoms around Pâques (Easter) as the name denotes.
3. Gækkebrev (Danish)
Translation: literally “a trick letter”; a Danish tradition of sending anonymous Easter letters
Gækkebrev is the act of sending anonymous letters to friends and family members in the weeks leading up to Easter. The anonymous letters are true pieces of art. They are folded and cut into beautiful shapes to reveal an intricate pattern of that resembles lace when opened.
Want to join in the fun? Create your own beautiful letter — the more elaborate the better. Write a poem, riddle or jokey message. Sign the letter anonymously, with dots that correspond to the number of letters in your name. Finally, accompany your letter with a snowdrop flower.
Children in particular love participating in this tradition. If they guess correctly who sent them the letter, they get an Easter egg (påskeæg) from the sender. However, if they don’t, they are the ones who must give a chocolate egg to the sender. This tradition goes back to the 19th century but it wasn’t until the 1930s that it became a children’s game.
4. Heuschnupfen (German)
Translation: hay fever
It is estimated that around 12 million, or 14.8% of Germans, suffer from hay fever yearly. If you are visiting Germany in the spring and usually suffer from allergies, download the app Pollenflug. With this very handy app you can see how high the pollen count will be in your region, as well as the type of pollen that prevails. If the app shows höhe Belastung (high pollen count), get ready for a very difficult day.
5. капель (Russian)
Translation: Dripping water droplets from treetops in the spring
капель (Kapel) signals the start of spring in Russia, as it’s the time when the sun comes out after a long winter and icicles start to melt. This image of water dripping from treetops alludes to warmer, brighter days and it’s enough to put your average Russian in a good mood.
6. Kosläpp (Swedish)
Translation: cow release
If you want to see a proper “laughing cow,” head to Sweden in the springtime after a long Scandinavian winter comes. Farmers let their cows back out into the fields and such is the cows’ excitement that they run, roll, frolic, dance and jump about in the fields. Kosläpp is now a popular spring activity to do with the kids. Arla farms organize cow releasing events that include educational activities, games and learning about the animals.
7. Marzanna (Polish)
Translation: Goddess of winter and death
March 21st is marked with the drowning of a Marzanna doll in Poland. According to this Slavic tradition, Marzanna is the incarnation of winter and death. The custom, which goes back to the Middle Ages, is rooted in paganism despite the country’s strong ties with Catholicism.
According to superstitious Poles, the best way to encourage the advent of spring and ensure a good harvest is by setting fire to and drowning an effigy of Marzanna. Nowadays, this custom is a favorite pastime among young children who love creating their own Marzanna dolls from straw, old newspaper and rags. The dolls are then taken to the nearest bridge and thrown into the river while children sing traditional springtime songs as a way of exorcising the evil of winter.
8. Rokjesdag (Dutch)
Translation: skirt day
How do you know spring has arrived in the Netherlands? Rokjesdag, literally ‘skirt day’, is the first sunny day of the year when it’s warm enough for girls and women to start wearing short skirts again. The term, popularized by Dutch writer Martin Bril in 1996, and was consequently added to Van Dale’s Great Dictionary of the Dutch Language.
According to Martin Bril, who died in 2009, Rokjesdag always took place around April 15th. Others say it falls on April 22nd the date of his death, but most of the time it seems to take place whenever #rokjesdag starts trending on Twitter.
9. Spargelsaison (German)
Translation: asparagus season
Spargelsaison or Spargelzeit (asparagus time) starts in late April. It’s a very busy season for harvesters who spend up to 8 hours in the fields picking this delicacy by hand. The best German states to indulge your fill of asparagus are Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony. Almost every restaurant in the region will have prepared its own bespoke Spargelmenu allowing you to try asparagus in an appetizer, main meal or even dessert.
For a truly epicurean experience, follow the Baden Asparagus Route to Schwetzingen – a city which claims to be the Asparagus Capital of the World. The town’s favorite motto is: “Bis Johanni nicht vergessen, sieben Wochen Spargel essen!” which translates to “Until St. John’s Day (on 24 June) don’t forget, eat asparagus for seven weeks!”
10. Terraza (Spanish)
Translation: open terrace
Spring is not officially here until you’ve enjoyed your first chilled beer in an open terraza. And where better to take in the starry sky in spring than in Madrid? As the Madrileños like saying: “En Madrid, no hay playa… ¡pero tenemos terrazas!” (In Madrid, there is no beach but we have terraces!)