Unique Spring Traditions Around the World
Like many holidays, the start of spring is welcomed and celebrated all over the world and in various ways. Many cultures and countries have their own ways of celebrating spring that date back thousands of years, and though at first many may seem somewhat strange, they’ve come to be accepted as tradition. What are the most unique spring traditions from around the world? Let’s find out!
Poland– In a strange practice with roots dating all the way back to the 1500s, Poland celebrates the end of winter with what is known as the drowning of Marzanna. The drowning of Marzanna is an event in which homemade straw-stuffed dolls are paraded through the streets towards a body of water, where they are then thrown and left to drown. The crudely-made dolls represent winter, and their demise is meant to serve as a celebratory end to the cold weather, as a warmer season takes its place.
Switzerland– Some cultures celebrate with water, others use fire! Switzerland welcomes the end of winter with an annual spring festival in Zurich, known as Sechseläuten. Crowds gather to watch as a snowman is burned at the stake, signifying a dramatic end to the cold winter months. The snowman is usually stuffed with explosives, and the rate at which its ashes burn is said to predict the weather for the upcoming summer months. If the snowman burns within the first few minutes, summer will be dry, but if it explodes after 10 or 15 minutes, the summer months will be filled with rain and gloom!
The Netherlands– Parades, galore! The Netherlands celebrate the start of spring with a widely-observed and exciting tradition that attracts large crowds. Every April, the country says goodbye to winter and “hello” to the re-emergence of mother nature with an elaborate 12-hour parade. Hundreds of thousands of spectators watch as the impressive floats, constructed entirely of flowers, parade through the streets—24 miles of them, to be exact!
Bulgaria– Known as Baba Marta, meaning “the grandmother of March,” Bulgaria’s spring celebration begins appropriately on March 1st each year. While its origins suggest that Baba Marta is a cranky elderly woman who punishes bad behavior with cold weather, modern years have dropped the antiquated superstitions. The day now signifies the welcoming of spring, as crowds of people and cities get decked out top to bottom in red and white—colors that symbolize health and fertility, respectively.
Scotland– Scotland boasts its own silly spring tradition, where children run in circles around the town bell with crumpled balls of paper. When the bell, or Kirk, rings at 6:00 pm, the quiet winter months are unofficially over, and the town rejoices. The name of this strange tradition? “Whuppity Scoorie.”
Spain– Spain is not immune to strange spring traditions. In fact, theirs just might take the cake. In Valencia, the annual Fallas festival draws a crowd of three million people, who come not only to honor Saint Joseph, but to watch as paper-mâché dolls, known as ninots, stuffed with explosives go up in flames. It’s not unusual to see people dressed in medieval attire as the city parades through the streets in celebration. The festival lasts five days and nights, and is usually described as a loud, exciting, and continuous street party.
Bosnia– Bosnia knows how to party! Cimburijada, or “Festival of Scrambled Eggs” is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and invites large crowds to celebrate life. While springtime means many things, its biggest symbolism is the return of Mother Nature and the rebirth of life throughout the planet. Eggs, which are a common symbol of new life, are served scrambled, delicious, and free, to the thousands of people who congregate there.
All over the world, countries and cultures perpetuate the sometimes strange, but always interesting traditions that mark the end of the cold winter months, and the start of the warmer ones to come. What is your favorite spring tradition?