Updated: Aug 23
By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.
Many countries and cultural groups recognize the season of spring in a variety of ways. Generally, it is a time for renewal and rebirth to instill faith and hope. It is a time when we see flowers bloom, baby animals being born, and families gathering to celebrate their own traditions through food, festivals, and other activities. In the United States we are fortunate to have many types of cultures and persons whose origins are of other countries. While Americans are painting eggs and having egg roll events, Bali Hindus are decorating masks, Zoroastrians are planting seeds, and Japanese Buddhists are honoring their ancestors.
Some of the more popular and common spring traditions include the celebration of St Patrick’s Day on March 17 commemorating the traditions of Ireland, their patron saint who brought Christian teachings to the everyday person. In Thailand there is the Songkran water festival marking the beginning of the Thai new year. Water is an important symbol and essential for life and during Songkran it represents washing away the old year and anticipate the coming rainfalls. Hana Matsuri is a religious event celebrated through Buddhist Asia and incorporates the birthday of Buddha Shakaymuni. In Japan Hana Matsuri is viewed as a flower festival and coincides with their celebration of Sakura better referred to as the cherry blossom as well as Kanbutsue which is the celebration of Buddha bathing party. In India they have the festival of colors called Holi celebrating the end of winter and beginning of spring. People commemorate Holi by lighting bonfires, throwing colored power called gulal, singing, dancing, and eating delicious sweets and treats. Ramadan is observed by the Muslims as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. A commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation is part of the annual observance of Ramadan and regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Eid al-Fitr is the feast of breaking the fast and marks the end of the month long fasting of Ramadan.
In Mexico there is the celebration of the spring equinox Teotihuacán. People gather at the Teotihuacán Pyramid, the pyramid of the sun, by dressing in all white to absorb the good energy. Cinco de Mayo is more commonly celebrated in the United States to honor Mexico and their Battle of Puebla where they were triumphant in defeating the French army. In Holland, famous for its tulip-covered fields, celebrates with its flower parade of the Bollenstreek. Millions of flowers are used to floats for the parade and celebrations. Sham el Nessim is the Egyptian spring festival acknowledging the coming harvest and change in the spring air. Decorating hard boiled eggs are a way to symbolize rebirth and families hang their baskets of eggs hoping their wishes get fulfilled. Li Chun Festival celebrates the Spring Equinox in many Asian cultures. Their tradition suggests by balancing your egg you will have good luck for the rest of the year. The Greek Island of Corfu celebrates by throwing clay pots full of water to ward off bad spirits. Residents then they take home shards of pots as good luck charms. Bulgarians celebrate the arrival of spring with red and white bracelets called Martenitsa. This represents a bond for the strength, health, and happiness of their country.
Of course, there is the celebration of Passover and Easter among Jews and Christians. The celebration of Passover is the commemoration of Jews being passed over by the angel of death, being freed from slavery, and beginning the start of their long journey to the promised land. Easter takes on two forms. One is the use of the Julian calendar by those celebrating Orthodox Easter which is observed near the time of the March Equinox. The Gregorian Calendar is used by most western countries and Christian denominations. In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea decided that Easter would be observed on the first Sunday of the full moon. The observance of Easter is the celebration of the Christ’s resurrection from his crucifixion and death. Through the resurrection Christ overcame death to a new life and is the start of Christianity.
Springtime inspires us with faith and hope through these customs from various countries, ethnicities, and religions. This is a time for renewal and rebirth and a time to share with our family and friends as we look forward to the rest of the year. During the current difficult and troubled times, social support and being inspired with hope through faith can benefit our well-being. Afterall, friends can be good medicine.