Spring Festivals around the World

The arrival of spring with delightful colours of blossoms gave the English Conversation group members the occasion to speak about spring festivals around the world. Mrs. Rezwan Majedi, the spouse of the Iranian Ambassador to Germany, warmly welcomed us in her Residence on 16 April 2018 where we learned about the Nowruz Iranian New Year usually celebrated on March 21st for over 3,000 years. The New Year celebrations continue for 13 days with music, dances and fireworks. Traditionally, families gather together to observe the rituals and pay respect to the elders. Each family sets aside a special space for a “haft-seen”, which is a beautiful arrangement of seven symbolic items representing important concepts in Persian culture. Growing wheat or lentil sprouts, representing freshness and renewal, is one of the most traditional preparations for Nowruz. Extensive spring cleaning is observed by almost every household.

Iraq welcomes Nowruz, the springtime celebration of rebirth, with folk dances and music, and families gather together for a festive meal of traditional dishes. February and March are the coolest months in Kuwait during which Kuwaitis enjoy walks and outdoor activities such as BBQs, picnics and camping.

Spring also marks the beginning of the flavour season for Tunisian families who have inherited from their ancestors the art of distilling flowers, with each region distilling a specific flower. Springtime in Turkey is remarkably beautiful with the sight of wild flowers, and the first fruits and vegetables of the year. Lebanon has amazing waterfalls. When spring arrives, the waterfalls are supplied with water from the melting winter snow on the mountains.

When spring finally arrives in Iceland, after a long winter, the birds are returning, especially the golden plover which is probably the most loved Icelandic bird. The lambing season begins with baby lambs being born. May is a great time to witness the newborn lambs taking their first tiny steps into the outside world. There are many things to do during springtime in the UK such as enjoying the lovely gardens and parks, attending horticultural shows or joining sporting events. The Easter Sunday lunch wouldn’t be complete without a lamb roast.

Berlin’s spring weather with a clear blue sky is excellent for all outdoor activities and sporting events such as golfing, tennis and biking. The town of Werder on the River Havel in Brandenburg is famous for its Blossom Festival, attracting thousands of visitors yearly. The traditional asparagus season in Beelitz has just begun, and we can enjoy Beelitz asparagus till late June.

Baguio in the Philippines is in full bloom during the month of February, when the weather is cool and relatively dry. The Baguio Flower Festival is held yearly, showcasing floral floats, native dances and band competitions as well as fun activities for everyone. Songkran, Thailand’s New Year, is observed on April 13th and officially lasts three days. Traditionally, people pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of purification and respect.

With the rainy season over and the tropical heat not yet so intense, Singaporeans enjoy concerts at parks and at the seafront. It’s also the best time of the year to view street art painted on walls of shops or buildings by local artists. Most of all, Singaporeans and residents like outdoor dining on rooftops, by the beach, in nature or along the streets.

As spring approaches, Japan turns into a fragrant sea of pink and white blossoms. The Japanese celebrate this time of the year with Hanami: cherry blossom viewing parties. This tradition dates back as early as the 8th century. Families, friends and colleagues gather under the blossoming trees to drink, sing, chat or just admire the spectacle.

Nigeria has a tropical climate with two seasons: wet (April-October) and dry (November-March). Nigerians celebrate the cultural Yam Festival to give thanks for a good harvest and the Fishing Festival as a symbol of unity.

At the end of an exciting round of conversations and discussions, a lunch reception with traditional Iranian cuisine awaited us. Heartfelt thanks to Rezwan and her entire team for the very pleasant morning spent together! Linda and Rebekka also wish to thank the members for their support and active participation.