After spending the winter months indoors, spring gives us an abundance of opportunities to go outside and interact with our communities. But if you’re looking to get out of town and celebrate spring in a different community and culture, there are plenty of ways to do that!
Whether you want to see how Easter is celebrated around the world or you’re more interested in secular traditions, there’s a spring festival out there for you. Take a look – one of these festivals is sure to put a spring in your step.
Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
Cherry blossom festivals, or Sakura Matsuri, take place all throughout Japan. If you travel to the island nation in the spring, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from where you can revel in the beauty of these wonderful trees.
Here’s one festival that comes highly recommended: the cherry blossom festival at Hirosaki Castle in Hirosaki Park is one of the most beautiful places to see these gorgeous trees at the height of their beauty. Stand under their lovely branches during the day and soak up the stunning views of the castle and its moat covered with pink petals. Learn about the history of Hirosaki Park while you’re there. At night, enjoy delicious street food in with your travel buddy!
Semana Santa in Spain
Semana Santa translates to Holy Week in English, and it is the seven days leading up to Easter Sunday. These celebrations have been happening in Spain since the 16th century, so the Spanish really know what they’re doing when it comes to Holy Week!
Take in all the sights, including the pasos, or huge, elaborate, and beautiful floats that are carried through the processions. Each of the pasos represents a story that is part of the Passion of the Christ. While each region of Spain has its own take on the Holy Week celebrations, no matter where you go, you’ll be enchanted by what you see.
Holi in India
Bathe yourself in color at Holi, an ancient Hindu festival that is also known as the Festival of Colors or the Festival of Love. During Holi, people paint their skin with the colors of happiness using pigments and powders as they welcome in spring.
Holi takes place in March and celebrations are held all across India. There are festivals in Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana, and Agra, as well as other cities. In Jaipur, there are gala celebrations in the palace hosted by the royal family that help support charities. See if you can find a place to listen to customary Rajasthani folk music as your eyes are dazzled by all the colors.
Easter Monday in Slovakia
Like Spain, Slovakia takes the Easter holiday and Holy Week seriously. The day after Easter, Easter Monday, is an important day in Slovakian culture. On Easter Monday, people take part in Easter whipping, which is also known as Easter bathing.
What is Easter whipping? It’s not as violent as the name sounds. In the past and in some villages today, young men would take willow branches and use them as part of the whipping tradition.
Nowadays, there is more of a focus on the sprinkling part of the tradition, where young men pour buckets of water over the heads of young women. According to Jana Kasperkevic, the tradition “is meant to symbolize youth, strength and make women healthy for the upcoming spring season.” After the drenching, the women give the men Easter eggs, similar to how people pass out candy during trick-or-treating. In the cities, there’s less drenching and more sprinkling and water guns used in the tradition.
Songkran Water Festival in Thailand
Here’s another spring festival that’s all about water: Songrkan, which is the Thai Water Festival that’s also associated with the day when the sun changes position in the zodiac. Originally, locals would use water that had been poured over statues of Buddha to bless the village elders.
These days, Songkran is more like a massive water fight during the hottest month of the year in Thailand. Some Thai people still uphold the spiritual undertones and the practice celebrating the symbolism of the water, which is meant to purify and cleanse as they enter into the new season.
Nowruz in Iran
Nowruz is primarily celebrated in Iran as the Iranian New Year, but it is celebrated throughout Central Asia. This spring festival helps usher in the new season. While there are many traditions involved in Nowruz, one tradition that you can do anywhere is to arrange the haft-sin, which is a collection of seven items that represent renewal and springtime.
Bonfires, feasts, musical performances, sports, and poetry readings are all part of the Nowruz festivities. There are certain liturgies and rites that may be performed as well, but it is mostly a secular celebration.
Spring Equinox at Stonehenge in England
Have you always wanted to visit the ancient landmark of Stonehenge? Take a tour of the monument during the Spring Equinox and see the sun shine through the stones on the day when day and night are equal. Learn about the pagan beliefs surrounding Stonehenge and the vernal, or spring, equinox.