Contributor: Phoebe Yin
It may be hard to believe when we looked out the window and saw snow on the ground a week ago, but the first day of spring has just passed. In countries without snow at the end of March (probably almost every country not named Canada), this season is welcomed with all sorts of celebrations and activities.
The smell and taste of spring
In Eastern Europe, it’s tradition for families in Russia, Slovenia, and Poland to put aside the store-bought butter bricks and carve out butter lambs by hand. As the name suggests, butter lambs are large moulds of butter shaped like lambs. Like many other animals, lambs are usually born in late winter or early spring, so they’re perfect for the occasion. Of course, when using butter lambs, it’s more polite to start from the back rather than devour the head first.
We’ve all heard of the Easter bunny, but many Australians are advocating for the Easter bilby. Bilbies look very similar to rabbits, and they were once living on 70% of the Australian continent. After rabbits took over and predators came into the picture, the bilby population declined so much that they’re now a threatened species. Today, chocolate Easter bilbies can be found all over the country, as a way to raise awareness for their conservation.
For those who think breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Bosnia is the place to be in spring. Every year for at least the past century, they celebrate with Cimburijada, the Festival of Scrambled Eggs. Thousands of eggs are cooked on the street from the crack of dawn. If you’re not a fan of eggs, don’t worry. The rest of the day is spent barbecuing and partying.
The sight of spring
Nowruz is the Persian New Year, and one of its main traditions is to lay out a ceremonial table with seven items that start with the letter “S” and represent spring. This is known as the Haft Sin table, and includes items such as seeb (apple), seer (garlic), serkeh (vinegar), senjed (dried fruit), samanu (sweet pudding), sabzeh (sprouts), and sumac (spice). In addition to the food, many families include other symbolic items, such as coins for prosperity, live goldfish for fertility, and a mirror for reflection.
An ancient Indian tradition named Holi is also known as the Festival of Colours, and it’s as colourful and happy as it sounds. During this celebration, people throw gulal, a type of coloured powder, at each other while singing, dancing, and eating. The bright colours and energetic atmosphere serves as a reminder of the importance of unity and community. If you plan to visit India between late February and March, make sure to always have a change of clothes with you.
When people think of Holland, they often think of tulips, and for good reason. To welcome the arrival of spring, the Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek involves floats made of millions of flowers such as tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. Around a million people from all over the world attend this festival. The parade travels for 42 kilometres and is built around a different theme every year.
The touch of spring
April is Thailand’s hottest month of the year. So, naturally, the best way to celebrate the beginning of the hottest season is to throw water at your fellow citizens. During the Songkran festival, people of Thailand bring water balloons, buckets, and other water-holding apparatuses to the streets to drench their friends and family. Water represents washing away the old year and moving forward. Plus, it’s fun.
In Bulgaria, red and white bracelets, charms, and dolls known as martenitsa are created, exchanged with friends or family, and hung on trees. White represents purity, beauty, and joy, while red represents vitality, fertility, and bravery. The threads, weaved together, symbolize strength, unity, and happiness. Whenever someone sees any sign of spring, it’s tradition to take off their martenitsa and hang it on the closest tree. This tradition stems from Bulgarian folklore, with a mythical figure named Baba Marta. She’s a cranky old lady who is believed to influence the weather with her mood, and maritenitsa are a way of asking her to end the winter.
The sound of spring
On the Greek island of Corfu, Easter Saturday is probably one of the loudest days of the day. Residents of this island fill clay pots with water and throw them out the window to ward off bad spirits. The shattered pieces of the pots are then kept as good luck charms. In case you were wondering, nobody has ever been seriously injured.
“12 Spring Traditions around the World.” Little Passports, 1 Apr. 2021, https://www.littlepassports.com/blog/world-holidays/12-spring-traditions-around-the-world/#:~:text=Spring%20is%20a%20time%20of,the%20spring%20celebrations%20are%20endless.
“Bilby.” Parks and Wildlife Service, 11 Aug. 2017, https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/threatened-animals/bilby.
Maxouris, Christina, and Artemis Moshtaghian. “More than 300 Million People Will Celebrate Nowruz (and You Should, Too).” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Mar. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/nowruz-2021-explainer-trnd/index.html.