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Water Cooler: Celebrate spring around the world

UPDATED: Mon., April 5, 2021

A woman looks at a vendor’s sun dresses  (Associated Press)
A woman looks at a vendor’s sun dresses (Associated Press)

Spring is a season celebrated around the globe. It seems there isn’t a culture on Earth that can resist the joy brought on by the first hints of green on the thawing ground and bare branches. Learn how different cultures welcome spring, then visit YouTube to see the celebrations captured on video.

Bulgaria – This Balkan nation located north of Greece and south of Romania ushers in spring before the equinox. In Bulgarian folklore, spring begins on March 1, called Baba Marta Day. It is marked by the exchanging of Martenitsa, small adornments made of white and red yarn. Two, doll-shaped yarn ornaments hang on the bracelet, representing a man and woman. The red and white colored thread is meant to symbolize wishes for good health, and some propose that they also represent the constant cycle of life as well as the balance of good and evil. Martenitsa are exchanged between loved ones, and the recipients wear them on their neck, wrist or clothes until they first see a blossoming tree, or a swallow or stork as it returns from migration. To learn more about Martenitsa and see various examples of them, search for the video “Bulgarian Martenitsa | The Power To Connect,” posted by Culture Heartbeat.

Mexico – On the spring equinox, thousands of people gather at the Pyramid of the Sun, nestled in the pre-Hispanic site of Teotihuacán, Mexico. Many of the attendees dress in white and wear a red scarf or other accessory. The day is marked by burning incense, dancing and chanting, but the central ritual is to climb the pyramid and stand on top of it, facing the sun with outstretched arms. Most everyone climbs between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., but some arrive early enough to watch the sunrise over the mountains. The event has grown in popularity, with more than a million people visiting the site on the weekend of the 2010 equinox, and with similar events taking place at other pre-Hispanic sites as well. See tourists and Indigenous Americans enjoying this spring celebration in the video, “Thousands gathered at Teotihuacan pyramids to celebrate Spring Equinox,” posted by AP Archive.

Iran and surrounding countries – Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, also called the Persian New Year. It falls on the spring equinox, marking the first day of Farvardin on the Solar Hijri calendar. Although the holiday has Iranian roots, it is celebrated by diverse communities across Western and Central Asia. The Wednesday before Nowruz is marked by bonfires and the lighting of fireworks. Around the bonfires, Iranians sing or chant, “Zardee maan az toh! Sorkhee toh az maan!” which means, “my yellow is yours, your red is mine.” It is said while hopping over the fire as a way of asking the fire to rid a person of sickness and bad luck, and replace it with health and good luck for the new year. In Iran, the holiday lasts 13 days with the last day celebrated by outdoor picnics. Search for the video “Nowruz: How 300m people celebrate Persian New Year,” posted by BBC News to see all the various ways people joyfully celebrate Nowruz.

That only scratches the surface of the worldwide celebration of spring, with other traditions including gathering at Stonehenge, honoring the dead with Shunbun No Hi in Japan, eating scrambled eggs for Cimburijada in Bosnia, viewing giant floral displays in Australia for Floriade, and even throwing wheels of cheese down Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester, England.

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