For many, the coming of spring marks the coming of the holiday season. Around the world people of many religions, cultures and nations gather this season to celebrate traditional and historic occasions. Here are a few that have recently been celebrated or are coming up soon:
Purim - The Jewish festival commemorates the rescue of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman's plot to exterminate them, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Celebrated on the Jewish Calendar date of 14th of Adar (this year March 10), the holiday is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim), and a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim). Other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.
Nowruz - Literally meaning "New Day," the traditional Iranian or Persian New Year marks the first day of spring, taking place on or near the vernal equinox. Celebrations include a traditional spring cleaning and the Wednesday Suri, the Iranian festival of fire in which participants jump over bonfires to symbolize light (the good) winning over darkness (the bad). Modern Iranians celebrate New Year for 13 days. The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family other relatives and friends where gifts are exchanged and sweets and feasts are consumed. On the last day, the 13th day of the first month, people leave their homes to go to the parks or rural areas to spend a day in nature. A major part of the New Year ritual is setting a special table with seven specific items present, Haft Sin. Check out this HuffPost story on the culinary treats associated with Nowruz.
Holi - Also known as the Festival of Colors, Holi is a popular Hindu spring festival celebrated in India, Nepal, and countries with large Hindu populations. It is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that Prahlad had when Demoness Holika carried him into a fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped safely because of his strong devotion.
Easter - The most important date in the Christian year, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion. For Catholics, Easter marks the end of Lent, a season of prayer and pentenance beginning on Ash Wednesday. The Easter bunny has become a modern symbol for the holiday and many celebrate with an Easter egg hunt.
Passover - An eight-day long holiday commemorating the Jewish Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery written about in the Torah (Pentateuch). When the Egyptian Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten. Matza, the unleavened, flat crispy bread is the primary symbol of the holiday. The start of the holiday, on Jewish Calendar date 10th of Nisan, is celebrated with a large Passover meal and reading of the Hagadah, called the Passover Seder.
How do you celebrate the spring holidays? Share with us your favorite traditions, memories and recipes in the comments section below.