For many, the start of the spring season represents a new beginning as the seasons change from the dead of winter to the colorful and lively spring months. The changing season not only marks the physical change of nature, but also the changes which occur within individuals, including a renewed desire for growth and change. Cultures across the world have their own unique celebrations of spring and the individual’s chance for a fresh start.
In the largely Catholic country of Spain, Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, coincides with the Easter holiday. Holy Week is celebrated the week prior to Palm Sunday and falls during the last week of Lent. The festivities of Semana Santa include parades and processionals, Masses, and other religious ceremonies. The clothing worn during Holy Week is very unique and is known as Nazarenos. While the festival is very vibrant and colorful it also holds significant religious value.
As one of the oldest festivals in India, the Holi Festival, also known as the Festival of Colors, is celebrated each year at the approach of the spring equinox by Hindu’s throughout India. Holi “marks the end of the winter gloom and rejoices in the bloom of the spring time.” The festival holds great spiritual, social and mythological significance. Holi is famous for the tradition of throwing colorful powders and water on the other individuals participating in the festivities. Holi is also celebrated with the “breaking of the pot” and Holika Dahan, or the lighting of bonfires which takes place on the eve of Holi.
Also known as the Persian New Year, Nowruz is the traditional Iranian festival which marks the beginning of the Spring season during the vernal equinox. The word itself, in Persian, translates to mean “New Day.” Nowruz originated in the area known as Persia which is now referred to as Iran. Rituals and traditions of the Persian New Year include Chahar Shanbe Suri, also known as the fire jumping tradition, where individuals light small bonfires and jump over the flames while shouting a phrase. This ritual symbolizes taking away “all the unpleasant things that happened in the past year.” Other traditions include Tahvil and Half-Seen Table, or the Table of Seven S’s.
One of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, Passover, which is also known as Pesach or Chag he-Aviv (the Spring Festival), commemorates the liberation of the Israelites escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. While it is not a major aspect of the holiday, Passover marks the beginning of the harvest season in Israel. A central tradition of the Jewish Passover is to eat unleavened bread. This ritual is done in remembrance of the freed Israelites, who “left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise.”
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Michael, Jaclyn. Celebrating Nowruz. Cambridge: The Outreach Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, n.d. PDF.
Rich, Tracey R. “Jadaism 101: Pesach: Passover.” Judaism 101: Pesach: Passover. N.d., 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.
Ward, Samantha. “Semana Santa.” Semana Santa. University of South Carolina. N.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. http://web.schc.sc.edu/Samantha_Ward_Senior_Thesis/SemanaSanta.html.