Winter is officially over as yesterday marked the equinox, the day in which the sun passed the celestial equator and transitioned from North to South. On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet as the sun lies perpendicular to both hemispheres so our friends in Addis Ababa, Siberia, Yucatan & Mumbai are each experiencing days of equal lengths. On Sunday March 27th clocks will go forward in the UK meaning there will be an additional hour of daylight for us all although this is of course a matter of preference rather than one of astrological significance.
Below are some of the ways that different cultures celebrate the start of spring
Hindu’s celebrate the festival of Holi, which signifies good triumphing over evil. During the festival it is customary to light a bonfire the night before where families gather together, and chuck a load of paint over each other the following day in which you prepare by rubbing “gulal” and “abeer” into people’s faces. A traditional snack eaten during festivities is Dhali Bala, a spongy lentil dumpling served with a creamy yogurt and topped with tamarind and coriander chutney.
Russian’s celebrate Maslenitsa, an Orthodox Christian festival which was once banned under Soviet rule. Although increasingly secular, Russia’s population continue to celebrate “crepe week” by consuming crepes with numerous fillings vith vigour although many still abstain from eating meat for religious reasons.
In Japan, spring is marked by the blossoming en masse of the Sakura (cherry blossom tree), the national flower and a metaphor for the transitory nature of life. Meteorologists provide a televised cherry blossom forecast providing a petal by petal analysis of when blossoming will be due. This ubiquitous flower beautifies the surroundings when opened.
Germans celebrate “Fruhlingsfest”, a scaled down version of “Oktoberfest”. During the celebrations copious amount of bier is consumed in oversized “biersteins” or giant beer mugs. If this sounds like fun but don’t take my word for it, take the word of Wasenhasi, Stuttgarts official mascot.
“let me introduce myself? I’m Wasenhasi, the mascot of the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart. I’ve been living here since 2007 and I can certainly say that life is never boring here. Festivals, shows, circuses, concerts, exhibitions – there’s something happening throughout the year.”
There you go.