It is that time of year again. The seasons are changing: the flowers are blooming, the days are longer, and nights are spent outside on the terrace enjoying the kiss of the spring breeze on your bare arms – until the giant midnight bugs come out to play and force you to quickly go back into the shelter of your home.
Spring brings an explicable feeling of new life and opportunities with it. We feel the need to reinvent ourselves as winter fades into the colorful, hopeful spring.
All the best things happen during spring: prom, graduation, spring semester classes end, and new love blossoms.
Globally, the earth awakens and spring festivities are held everywhere, celebrating the blossoming of new life, new chances, and new hope.
Songkran – Thailand
Songkran, known as the Water Festival by visitors, marks the beginning of a new solar year, and is Thailand’s most renowned holiday. Traditionally, friends and families throw water at each other to give positive blessings for the new year. This holiday will have you soaked as people run up and down the streets, shooting each other with water guns and elephants traipse the streets ready to hose down anyone in their path. This year, Songkan will be held from April 13 through 15. The holiday is held at the beginning of spring in order to also focus on the agricultural aspects of Thai tradition. The blooming flowers, lush vegetables, and warm weather are sure to inspire.
Semana Santa – Mexico, Central & South America
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is held in predominantly Catholic countries in Central and South America. It commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Often, they reenact the carrying of the cross and Christ’s resurrection. Though it is a religious holiday leading up to Easter, it is a time to humble oneself, give to others, and celebrate rebirth.
Nowruz – Central Asia
Nowruz, The Persian New Year, begins on the first day of spring, as the Earth is celebrating the first day of rebirth. Nowruz was traditionally seen as a victory for the return of the Spirit of the Sun, as the days in spring became longer. Now it marks the beginning of the new year, and is a national holiday that does not confine itself to one religion. On the 13th day, families go out and have picnics, celebrating nature in all its glory. It is celebrated by many central Asian countries, including Iran and Albania.
Cherry Blossom Festival – Washington, D.C.
Cherry blossoms symbolize a time of renewal and temporary life. They last for about two weeks, and then fall, to be replaced by fresh green leaves. But for their short life spans, they are beautiful, and people come from all around the world to see them in Washington DC and Japan. The festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. Their life is short but it had meaning, as they are joined by newly-weds, families, and teenagers, who come to see them when they are most beautiful, forgetting momentarily that they are temporary. However, we must not forget, that though they last for such a short while, they always come back again the next year, emphasizing the circle of life.
Spring is a time of rebirth, reflecting on the past, but living for the future. Worldwide, different countries celebrate the coming of spring, and though they are celebrated in different ways, they all have a similar significance. Earth is blossoming, we are renewed, and we must grasp the new opportunities coming our way with each breath of spring air.