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5 Symbolic Spring Festivals Around the World

Learn about the often colourful and sometimes sacred ways cultures around the globe usher in the new season

Two children are shown throwing bright purple powder at each other during Holi

Spring is such a hopeful time of year. In the spirit of new beginnings, learn how the arrival of spring is celebrated around the world.

  • Hanami in Japan
  • Holi in India
  • Floriade in Australia
  • Martenitsa in Bulgaria
  • The Sinking of Marzanna in Poland


Hanami in Japan

Cherry blossoms are shown in a park with a stream running down the centre

With several hundred varieties of cherry blossom trees in Japan, Hanami––which means “flower viewing”––is a sight to behold. Every spring, millions of Japanese citizens gather in parks all across the country to admire the fleeting blossoms. This beautiful ritual dates back to the 11th century.

Holi in India

A child is shown with bright purple powder in her hair and on her face

The Hindu festival of spring, Holi is a riot of colour and beating drums. It’s a celebration of life. Streets are awash with vivid shades of red, blue, yellow, purple, orange and green as people throw coloured powder into the air and on to each other. Balloons filled with tinted water are thrown from rooftops and revellers splash water on each other in celebration. Evening brings Holika Dahan, the lighting of bonfires, which symbolizes good triumphing over evil.

Floriade in Australia

A garden gnome is shown in a field of purple flowers

It’s the largest festival of flowers in Australia, with millions of pansies, poppies, irises, daffodils, violets and chrysanthemums and more blooming in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park. Eye-catching sculptures, live music and a gnome-decorating competition makes Floriade a blooming celebration.

Martenitsa in Bulgaria

A red and white embroidery string bracelet is shown hanging from a tree with white blossoms on it

Over in Eastern Europe, Bulgarians share red-and-white bracelets with one another as a symbol of friendship and new beginnings. The Martenitsi is worn around wrists or on clothes until people start to see signs of spring. Some people tie their bracelets to the branch of a bare tree in hopes of seeing it bear fruit.

The Sinking of Marzanna in Poland

A puppet made of leaves and sticks with the painted face of a woman is shown outdoors

Marzanna is an ancient Polish custom that harks back to Paganism, with Marzanna as the embodiment the old Slavic goddess of winter, plague and death. Her death symbolizes the awakening of nature to life, and therefore spring. During this occasion, a puppet made with old rags, sticks and straw is set ablaze and thrown into a nearby river or lake. Children sing songs and celebrate the new season and the upcoming harvest.

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Image Credit: Intellistudies/iStock, NeoPhoto/iStock, Himanshu Sign Gurjar/Unsplash, ILYA GENKIN/Alamy, Elkhophoto/iStock, Marta Malina Moraczewska