Spring has always been celebrated around the world as a time of renewal, rebirth – and the joys of warmer weather. There are many traditions, some religious and some simply symbolic, that usher in the changing season in nearly every country in the world.
Eggs are one of the oldest, and most common symbols of spring in many far-flung cultures; they symbolize fertility and birth, two things closely tied to the season. In China, an ancient tradition still practiced today involves trying to balance an egg on its end on the day of the Spring equinox, which is considered good luck.
Easter eggs are just as popular in many Christian traditions, although not for balancing. Millions of family enjoy decorating eggs together with dye or paint, but what they do with them varies. In some traditions, eggs are rolled down a hill; in others, eggs are placed on the ground while revelers dance around them, trying not break them; and of course, there’s the popular easter egg hunt, in which eggs are hidden for children to find.
In Iran, the spring equinox is also the New Year. Spanning thirteen days, Iranians take the time to do some spring cleaning, refresh their wardrobes with new clothes, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy a traditional meal called Haft Seen. On the thirteenth and final day, they say goodbye to the bad luck of the past year by picnicking outdoors with family.
In India and many Hindu communities, people celebrate Holi, the festival of colors, by throwing water and brightly-colored powders at one another. It’s rooted in Hindu religious myth, but it’s also popular as a cultural, non-religious celebration.
Canadians look forward to the tulip festival that takes place in Ottawa; it’s been celebrated for decades, since the Dutch royal family gifted tulips to the country in gratitude for giving them safe haven during the Nazi occupation of their country. Something similar occurs in Washington, D.C., during the cherry blossom festival – the flowers were originally a gift from the mayor of Tokyo.
In Thailand, the New Year occurs in April and is a time for cleansing and renewal – symbolized through public water fights. This also helps them beat the heat!