Kids hold out colorfully dyed Easter eggs.
The snow is melting, flowers are blooming, and the days are getting warmer. It must be spring! Take a look at some of the big celebrations that happen during this season.
The springtime celebration of Easter is a Christian tradition marking the day Jesus Christ is said to have come back to life. The day is a celebration of Christianity, but it’s also a celebration of new beginnings and the changing seasons.
On Easter Sunday, people attend church services where they sing and pray. It’s a day for some fun family activities too, like decorating hard-boiled eggs and searching for them hidden around the house or yard. The White House even gets in on the action with an egg-rolling competition. Some kids also receive baskets filled with goodies, and many families have big feasts.
A Jewish family celebrates Passover with matzo and other foods.
The Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated for seven or eight days, depending on the branch of Judaism the person practices. Passover is a time to reflect on the Hebrew people’s freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt. The enslaved people were believed to have been led to freedom by a religious leader named Moses.
The celebration begins on the first day at sundown, when family members gather for a special dinner called a seder (pronounced SAY-dur). Most breads aren’t allowed during Passover, but matzo—a flat, cracker-like bread without yeast—is an exception. (The Hebrew people are said to have fled Egypt so quickly that the bread they were preparing to take with them didn’t have time to rise.) A bitter herb called maror is also set on the table, symbolizing the difficult experience of the people who were enslaved. During the meal, families and friends recall stories about their ancestors’ time of slavery and celebrate their independence.
Bright neon powder covers revelers in northern India during the annual Hindu celebration called Holi, held in March. Known as the festival of colors, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna.
This ancient tradition marks the end of winter and honors the triumph of good over evil. Celebrants light bonfires, throw colorful powder called gulal, eat sweets, and dance to traditional folk music.
Two girls celebrate Holi.
Nowruz (pronounced NO-rooz) means “New Day” and marks the beginning of spring. Also known as the Persian New Year, it’s celebrated by millions of people in Iran (formerly called Persia) and other countries, especially throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. The holiday falls in March.
Families celebrate Nowruz by cleaning their homes and having a big feast. A table is usually arranged with seven items that start with the letter s in the Persian language—such as sprouts (sabzeh) and dried fruit (senjed). Each item symbolizes a principle, such as love or rebirth. Some people also exchange gifts or attend street festivals to ring in the new year.
Dancers take the stage to celebrate Nowruz.
Water is poured on a statue.
Songkran, a celebration marking the Thai New Year, is all about making a fresh start with a splash. The festival in Thailand kicks off on April 13 and usually lasts three days, though festivities can start early or end later in some cities.
Water plays a major role in the festival. Symbolically it washes away the previous year so people can get ready for the next one. Many Songkran traditions use water, such as cleaning homes and sprinkling water on Buddha statues and the hands of elders. Outside, Songkran is celebrated with street parties and a giant friendly water fight.
Text by Rose Davidson, National Geographic Staff
Photo credits (top to bottom): Sergiy Bykhunenko, Shutterstock; ChameleonsEye, Shutterstock; Triloks, iStockphoto; Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images; Taylor Weidman, Getty Images