Holi, Spring celebrations, Festival of Colours

Celebrating Spring Around the World

The recent wonderfully, unseasonal warm weather has instigated thoughts of Spring and with that in mind, eSense Translations has been inspired to write a blog on the Spring traditions that take place around the world. It is human nature to feel awakened, revived and energised when the weather begins to change. It signals new beginnings and motivates change. eSense Translations takes a look around the world and reviews how these feelings of Spring are celebrated.


Poland- Marzanna

The festival of Marzanna has traditions dating back to the 16th century. The main celebrations of Spring centre around of the creation of a straw Marzanna doll, dressed in white or local folk costumes. The doll is a representation of the cold weather and once it is paraded through the street, it is thrown into the river, pond or lake as a symbolic end to the winter. Sometimes, the Marzanna is also set alight before being drowned.

This festival may also be seen in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Switzerland- Sechseläuten

A similar sentiment exists behind the Spring celebrations in Switzerland.

In the 16th century, when the nights got lighter and the workers were expected to finish an hour later, at 6pm, a bell would sound to alert everyone. Specifically, in Zurich, the large bell would ring at 6pm on the first Monday after the vernal equinox. This symbolic action created an association with Spring.

At the same time of year, youngsters had begun parading a snowman through the street before setting it alight. This snowman became known as Böögg (the word related to “bogeyman”).

In the 19th century, the two traditions combined and Böögg became the main focus of the Spring revelries. The snowman was burnt at the stake to drive out Winter and celebrate the Spring, whilst the parade became a children’s procession with joyful celebrations.

Böögg has also become renowned as a pretty accurate weather predictor! The belief is that the quicker the fire reaches his head, the better the summer conditions are likely to be. From 6-10 minutes, it will be dry, but take longer than 10-15 minutes and rain will be in store! With head filled with firecrackers, the presenting of the result is normally fairly spectacular and his predications have proved to be quite reliable in the past!


India / Nepal- Holi

The festival of Holi, or Festival of Colours, was originally Hindu, but has now spread and can been seen across India and Nepal.

These colourful celebrations are often captured on camera and have become quite infamous across the world.

The origin of Holi comes from Prince Prahlada, who was sentenced to be burnt on the full moon night, due to his devotion to Vishnu. However, when he emerged from the fire unscathed, people rejoiced this gift from god and sprinkled him with coloured water.

These days the festival takes place at the end of February or beginning of March on the full moon day and can last up to 7 days. It begins with evening bonfires and parties, followed by the main event the next day of giant colour fights. This festival now attracts tourists from around the world, who gather alongside the locals, to throw dyed powder at one another as a way of expressing blessings and good wishes.


Canadian Tulip Festival

This beautiful Canadian Tulip Festival began just after World War II when Princess Juliana offered a gift of 100,00 tulips to Canada as a thank you for their sanctuary.

The princess and her daughters had needed to flee the Netherlands, following the Nazi invasion and were given refuge in the country. Princess Juliana also gave birth to her third child whilst staying in Ottawa and a section of the hospital was declared Dutch soil, so the new princess could hold Dutch nationality. This gift of tulips was received in 1945 after the war and continues to be given every year.

In 1953, the festival was made official and tends to take place in May, attracting over 650,000 visitors from all over the world. Alongside the million plus tulips showcased in Ottawa, there are also other celebratory events, including tours, art exhibitions and firework displays.


The Netherlands- Bloemencorso Bollenstreek

The flower festival theme continues back in the Netherlands too.

Taking place every April, a 12-hour long flower parade winds its way from Noordwijk to Haarlem, in South Holland. Constructed from bulb flowers like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils, it can last more than 24 miles.

This Spring celebration was also initiated after the WWII when people were in need of celebration. It started with few hundred people with a couple of handcarts and has grown ever since. This colourful spectacle now attracts millions of visitors to the country.


There are many more Spring celebrations across the world that eSense Translations could share. Enough to create a series of Spring celebration blogs! There are common themes across these Spring celebrations; colour, flowers and festivities to welcome in the new and symbolic actions to say goodbye to the old.

How do you celebrate the start of Spring? Let eSense Translations know. We would love receive your pictures and stories!


By Lorna Paice

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