Ah, the death of winter is a beautiful time indeed. The snow melts, flowers bloom and people tend to be in cheerier moods now that the malaise of winter is gone. Some countries like to celebrate the onset of spring with flower festivals. Others get drunk and have wild water fights. No matter how you're inclined to celebrate the season, check out some of these amazing spring festivals from around the world so you can welcome the new season in a big way.
Thailand's three-day water festival in April is meant to symbolize the cleansing of negative energy in people. The festival falls in one of the country's hotter months, so most people end up wielding super soakers, getting drunk and having a big water fight. It's definitely one of the more entertaining spring festivals out there.
Magic Madzik via Flickr
Polish people celebrate the onset of spring in violent, yet fun, fashion. They make straw dolls ("Marzaniok dolls"), decorate them with humanlike features, parade them through town while singing songs, and then drown them in a lake. Or set them on fire. It's meant to symbolize the death of winter.
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The Swiss celebrate the death of winter in violent fashion as well. They build a big snowman (known as a "Böögg"), place it atop a huge pile of wood and light it on fire. Sometimes they stuff the Böögg with explosives. The tradition dates back to the 16th century — a time when winter posed a much larger threat to the Swiss.
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Bloemencorso Bollenstreek is one of the longest and most beautiful parades in the world. Starting in Noordwijk and ending some 24 miles away in Haarlem, participants construct intricate floats comprised of bulb flowers — hyacinths, tulips, daffodils — and drive them 12 miles down South Holland streets. Hundreds of people come out to see it all and welcome the new season.
Steven Gerner via Flickr
Starting in late February or early March, Holi is a two-day Hindu festival that originated in India. The first night consists of religious rituals and the lighting of a bonfire, but it's the second day that's caused the festival to spread to Europe and North America. On this day, participants color each other with an assortment of dry powders and (some) have water balloon fights.
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Every spring about 400,000 people head to Canberra, Australia's capital, for Floriade — a flower festival centered around more than one million flowers that bloom in the city's Commonwealth Park. Floriade also includes live music, food, drinks, and rides. The flowers definitely provide a nice (and beautiful) excuse to drink a lot at this Aussie festival.
Beginning at the end of Poush, the ninth month of the Bengali calendar, Shakrain celebrates the beginning of spring with the flying of kites from rooftops. This traditional festival is meant to symbolize unity and friendship in Bangladesh, which might come as a surprise when you see people kite fighting — aka, trying to snag other people's kites with their own.
No one knows quite how this silly spring festival started in Scotland. To celebrate the end of winter, kids wear balls of crumpled paper around their heads and run laps around the town's bell, which remains silent for the colder half of the year. When the bell finally rings at 6 p.m., they stop and the party continues with food.
The blossoming of Japan's cherry trees are a world-renowned spectacle. And for centuries, the Japanese have celebrated the beginning of spring with Hanami — not so much of a festival, but more of traditional practice that involves hosting parties or picnics underneath the newly blossomed cherry trees.
On March 1, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta by giving each other red and white figurines that they wear until they spot the first birds or buds of spring. When this happens, they tie the figurines onto trees in celebration of the new season. The tradition pays homage to Baba Marta ("Granny March"), a mythical grandmother figure in Bulgaria whose smile represents the beginning of spring.