Spring festivals around the globe
Many people might not associate spring with festivals, but that does not mean this season of rebirth isn’t host to festivals celebrated globally. In fact, people of various religions and cultures anxiously anticipate the arrival of spring, which coincides with a host of festivals commemorating important historical events. A few festivals that will be celebrated this spring include:
* Purim: The Jewish festival of Purim does not always occur during the spring season, as its date correlates to the Hebrew calendar. In 2011, however, the festival does end at nightfall on March 20, which is the first day of spring. This festival commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people throughout the ancient Persian Empire from the plot by Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the Old Testament Book of Esther. Jews mark the festival with a recitation of the Book of Esther and by giving mutual gifts of food and drink to one another. Additional traditions include giving to the poor or less fortunate, a celebratory meal and even the wearing of masks and costumes.
* Holi: Commonly referred to as the Festival of Colors, Holi is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs each spring. Primarily observed in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the celebration includes throwing colored powder and scented water at one another. Songs are sung and food preparations often begin many days in advance. But the festival’s main emphasis is on the burning of the Holika, a holy bonfire symbolic of the annihilation of the demoness Holika.
* Easter: Christians are well aware that Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar, occurs each spring. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. For Catholics, the arrival of Easter marks the end of Lent, a season that begins on Ash Wednesday and focuses on prayer and sacrifice. Catholics typically “give up” something for Lent, such as avoiding the consumption of meat on Fridays throughout the Lenten season. The Friday before Easter, which always falls on a Sunday, is called Good Friday and is also one of the holiest days of the year in the Christian faith. This day commemorates the crucifixion of Christ.
* Nowruz: The celebration of the ancient Iranian New Year, Nowruz is often referred to as the Persian New Year. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iran and is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. Today, the festival of Nowruz is typically celebrated in countries that were either influenced or under the control of the Persian Empire. Such countries include Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Traditions include spending a day enjoying nature and spending the first few days of the festival visiting older members of the family.
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