Spring renewal gratitude5

Spring, Renewal, Gratitude

We had our first family Easter meal together this past weekend. It was a small gathering, but we were so happy to be able to greet each other with hugs, sit in the same room together eating the same meal, and enjoying each other’s company, after the seclusion during the Covid pandemic.


People around the world celebrate this time of spring renewal in many different ways. Some celebrations are secular, others are steeped in religion and ancient traditions, but the themes of contemplation, gratefulness, time spent with family and friends, and generosity to those less fortunate, weave through them. Eggs representing rebirth are also common among many traditions. The painted Ukrainan (Pysanka) featured above are a symbol of faith and now also a sign of resistance to the Russian invasion.


Below are some major observances.

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Buddha courtesy of Markus Winkler (Unsplash)

Buddha’s birthday is traditionally celebrated in most of East Asia to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Gautama Buddha. Seen most often is the hanging of lanterns on trees to symbolize Buddha’s enlightenment, shared vegetarian meals with family and friends, temple visits where food is offered to monks and the statues of Buddha are washed, and acts of virtue abound. It is a national holiday in many Asian and South Asian countries.


Easter, or Holy Week, is celebrated by Christians worldwide to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death, a promise of eternal afterlife for believers. Family meals and the gifting of eggs are probably ubiquitous, even among non-Christians. The devout will engage in self-discipline (e.g. giving something up for the forty days of Lent), acts of charity, prayers, all-night vigils, and sunrise worship services on Easter Sunday. In Jerusalem, Christian pilgrims gather at traditional sites where Jesus walked, was crucified, and buried.


Semana Santa, or Holy Week in Spain, Mexico, Central, and South America is marked by various solemn processions and public displays of penitence. In Spain, for example, heavy floats depicting the story of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem are carried on the shoulders of men who walk from village to village.

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Cherry Blossoms (MQW)

Hanami, or Cherry Blossom Festival originated in Japan and started as a signal to the rice-planting season. People gather to admire the delicate and short-lived blossoms, enjoy meals, drinks, and even entertainment among the trees. The flowers are a metaphor for life – beautiful but fleeting.


Holi is the colourful Hindu celebration of spring, forgiveness, and a legend of good triumphing over evil. The event is celebrated with bonfires, throwing coloured powders and water, and general boisterousness.  Below is a photo of just how colourful it can get!

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Holi courtesy of Yuvraj Sachdeva (Unsplash)

Nowruz is the celebration of the Persian New Year, observed by followers of Zoroastrianism from Iran, Afghanistan, and the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and throughout Central Asia. People travel to visit family and friends, eat traditional foods and participate in regional traditions. For example, a polo-like tournament is popular in Afghanistan, and in Central Asia, women sing while taking part in a 24-hour preparation of a special pudding, while outdoors, there are tournaments focussing on skills of the nomadic life, such as horse racing and archery.


Ramadan is a month-long observation by Muslims everywhere, focussed on self-discipline (contemplation), sacrifice (fasting), and empathy for those less fortunate (giving), in order to increase one’s spirituality. Eid marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated with shared food and gratefulness.


Sham El-Nessim is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims in Egypt, to welcome the Spring. During this national holiday, families gather, hold outdoor picnics, and eat traditional foods of salted fish, onions and eggs. Boiled eggs are also decorated with bright colours and good wishes, and given as gifts.


Songkran marks the beginning of the Thai New Year, and is celebrated with the donation of food to monks in temples, acts of ritual cleansing to honour parents and ancestors, and giving gifts of fragrant floral garlands. It is now known more for its exuberant water festival, where major streets in Bangkok are closed to traffic and participants splash each other with water.

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Gathering at Stonehenge courtesy of Dyama Wing So (Unsplash)

Spring Equinox is one of the 4 seasonal observations at Stonehenge. This set of large, mysterious archeological stone structures in Salisbury, England draws druids and other pagans to celebrate nature during the shifts in seasons.


Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping is observed by the Chinese as well as the Vietnamese and South Koreans. It is a time to honour their ancestors and dead relatives. Some of the traditions include visits to the graves of ancestors, sharing offerings of food and drink, burning incense, telling stories, enjoying the outdoors, and flying kites. In China, it is one of the largest national holidays, as millions of Chinese from around the world travel back to their ancestral villages to mark the occasion.


What is your spring tradition?


(Note: Ukrainian Eggs featured above courtesy of Tim Mossholder (Unsplash)

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