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March 2016

Springtime Festivals from Around the World

How people around the world celebrate spring rebirth

Now that Easter has come and passed, we move deeper into the rejuvenating season of spring, when the winter cold dissipates and the April showers bring forth May flowers. And as a literal reminder of the fecundity of life, the season of spring has appropriately inspired symbolic rituals of rebirth around the world.

Songkran Water Festival

The Songkran Water Festival is held annually in Thailand, when children and their parents get soaked with help from water guns and even the occasional elephant. This mid-April festival lasts for three days and is one of the most widely celebrated in the country. It's a metaphorical cleansing for the citizens, one where participants also pay tribute to elders by pouring scented water onto their hands as a sign of respect and blessings of good fortune.


Celebrating Hindus splatter upon one another gusts of colored powder, symbolizing the vibrancy of the season while celebrating Hindu traditions during Holi. Held after the first full moon of March, bonfires are lit during its eve and the ashes are spread upon foreheads to protect from evil. Businesses close during the holiday, so all can participate in getting doused by color.


Nowruz celebrates the arrival of spring and also serves as the Persian New Year. It is a popular holiday throughout Central Asia, notably in Iran and with Iranian populations worldwide. Occurring during the vernal equinox, it has Zoroastrian origins and remains a holy day for those who practice the faith. Aside from street celebrations, as seen with the Festival of Chaharshanbe Suri (“Festival of Fire”), houses are cleansed and family members are visited.


Passover is the important Jewish holiday that celebrates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from their enslaved state in Egypt, a very prominent "rebirth" of the Jewish people as told in Exodus. Celebrated around the world, it's not uncommon to find kosher Passover food items in local stores in preparation for the holiday, foods such as matzo (an unleavened flatbread) which serves as a symbol of humility (it is otherwise known as Lechem Oni in Hebrew, meaning "bread of poverty").

Holla Mohalla

Holla Mohalla is a 3-day festival celebrated by Sikh communities, notably in the Punjab. Martial arts demonstrations and fire breathing add vibrancy to the streets. Hola Mohalla translates loosely to "the charge of an army", and it originated in 1701 when mock battles and poetry readings were held to celebrate military conquests of the era. Traditional vegetarian food is consumed while celebrants gather in pangats ("queues" or assemblies of people).


Cimburijada, otherwise known as the Festival of Scrambled Eggs, takes one of spring's most iconic symbols, the egg, and cooks up a savory celebration for the people of Bosnia. A giant breakfast of scrambled eggs is prepared in a giant bowl and served to the public.

Las Fallas

During the Middle Ages, leftover winter wood was burned during the spring equinox, a practice that produced the now 5-day Spanish festival of Las Fallas. The fallas are the fairy tale-ish characters often seen during this festival in paper mâché puppet form. Of course, vast quantities of paella (that famous Spanish rice dish) are served. The festival honours St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers.

Cherry Blossom Festivals

Around the world, wherever beautiful cherry blossoms bloom, one can often find the Cherry Blossom Festival within Japanese communities. And it’s no surprise why these flowers are so celebrated; when they bloom, they bloom en masse, lining streets with their delicate white-pink hue. Widely celebrated in Japan, there are also festivals in the West, such as the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.


It goes without saying that Easter is perhaps the most widely celebrated spring festival in the world (whether for religious or secular reasons). Easter Day honors the Biblical tale of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Even world leaders host Easter events, such as the White House Easter Egg Roll, held this year with President Obama, a tradition dating back to the 1814.

How does your country celebrate the arrival of spring? Which is your favorite tradition? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on culture and language from around the world!