Spring Festivals Around the World

Spring is a time of renewal, and around the world, people come together to celebrate the arrival of longer and warmer days with festivals. While many in the United States are familiar with Easter, there are three other festivals in springtime that stand out.  

Nowruz: Persian New Year 

Nowruz, meaning "new day" in Persian, marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year and is celebrated around the world. Traditionally observed on the vernal equinox, Nowruz symbolizes rebirth and renewal. The festivities typically last for two weeks, bringing families and communities together to prepare for the arrival of spring. 

One of the central customs of Nowruz is the Haft-Seen table, a spread that includes seven symbolic items, each starting with the Persian letter "s." These items represent different aspects of life, such as rebirth, patience and love. Families gather around this table, exchange well-wishes, and indulge in traditional dishes like sabzi polow ba mahi, an herbed rice served with white fish and samanu, a sweet paste for dessert.  

Seven Special Somethings

Hanami: Cherry Blossom Viewing 

In Japan, the arrival of cherry blossoms, called sakura, signals the beginning of spring. This natural spectacle is celebrated through the centuries-old tradition of Hanami, meaning “flower viewing.” The flowers only bloom for about two weeks in March. During this brief time, people flock to parks, gardens and temples to witness the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms. 

Hanami is not just about enjoying its beauty—it is also a time for reflection and appreciation of life's transience, symbolized by the short blooming period. Families and friends gather for picnics beneath the trees, enjoying traditional foods like rice flour dumplings, called dango and drinking green tea. 

Japanese Traditions

Holi: The Festival of Colors in India 

Holi, known as the Festival of Colors, is a joyous and exuberant celebration in India that welcomes spring with a burst of vibrant hues. This lively festival signifies the victory of good over evil and the arrival of warm spring days. The highlight of Holi is the playful throwing of colored powder and water, creating a kaleidoscope of colors in the streets. Communities come together to dance, sing and share delicious sweets like gujhia, a sweet, deep-fried pastry, or mathri, a kind of flaky biscuit from the northwest region of India. Holi breaks down social barriers, as people of all ages and backgrounds participate in the festivities and embrace the spirit of unity. 

Holi Hai!

While these spring festivals span different cultures and traditions, they share common themes of renewal, unity and the beauty of nature. They all provide a time for communities to come together, express joy and embrace the changing season. In a world that often feels divided, these festivals serve as reminders of our shared humanity and love for festivities that we all have in common.