Rebirth and Renewal

A look at spring celebrations around the world. Spring has sprung! And with the changing of the seasons comes an abundance of reasons to celebrate. With programs in over 70 countries, our team has the opportunity to witness and learn from a variety of cultural and religious observances.

By Shefali Agarwal

True to the season, holidays in spring are often colorful and exuberant. Take, Holi, which is celebrated widely throughout India. Deeply rooted in the Hindu religion, the celebration marks the victory of good over evil, the end of winter, and the long-awaited spring harvest. These days, Holi is also considered a cultural holiday where Hindus and non-Hindus alike play in the streets, parks and open areas showering each other with colored water and holi powder. By the day's end, pristine white clothing is every color but white. Holi is a color riot for all, building fraternity among peers and strangers.

 

Similar to Holi, Easter is widely celebrated in Christian and Catholic households. The observance marks the day of Jesus’s resurrection and celebrates the victory of good over evil. Easter Day also marks the end of Lent, a period of fasting or sacrifice intended to promote discipline and renewed devotion. For believers and non-believers alike, Easter is associated with the coloring of Easter eggs and gift-giving bunny rabbits. The origins of these symbols are theorized by many; some think the eggs and rabbits symbolize fertility and the representation of “new life” that comes with spring! Regardless of your beliefs, Easter is a time to celebrate rebirth, whether in spirit or in nature.

In many Latin American countries, the week before Easter Sunday holds special meaning. While Semana Santa or ‘Holy Week'  is celebrated in a different manner depending on the region, processions of floats, feasts, and residents donning their best outfits are commonplace.

 

Ramadan, the holy month within Islam is a time for communal prayer, introspection, and self-restraint. Millions of Muslims around the world, take part in the holiday as a way to purify themselves and refocus on their spiritual beliefs. From dawn to dusk throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking, only breaking fast after sunset with a large feast known as "iftar." A three-day holiday called Eid celebrates the end of Ramadan. During Eid, families typically gift each other new clothes and sweets.

Learning about the customs and traditions of other cultures or religions provides us insights into their values and beliefs, and often at their core, we find there are more similarities than differences.


UP

Giving Tuesday