How We Celebrate Spring Festivals in Asia
Spring is a time of renewal, rejuvenation, and hope, celebrated with great enthusiasm across many Asian countries. The season is often marked by blooming flowers, warmer temperatures, and longer days, which brings about a feeling of freshness and excitement for the future. Spring celebrations in Asian countries are also a time of reflection on the year gone by, and a time to make new beginnings.
From the cherry blossom season in Japan to the Lunar New Year in China, spring festivals in Asia are a vibrant celebration of the season of renewal, hope, and new beginnings.
If you’re looking for an exciting travel destination this spring, Asia should definitely be on your list. Not only will you get to experience the beauty and excitement of spring festivals, but you’ll also get to immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of these countries. Here are some of the ways that Asian countries celebrate spring.
In Thailand, the arrival of spring/summer is celebrated with the festival of Songkran, or Thai New Year. It is a vibrant and joyous celebration that takes place at the hottest time of the year. Celebrated in mid-April, the festival typically lasts for three days. During the festival, people pour water on each other to wash away the past year’s sins and to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. Songkran has become famed as the world’s largest water fight. The gentle sprinkling of water has transformed over the years into an exuberant super soaking event with folks arming themselves with water pistols and buckets to share their cool, often iced-cool, watery ‘blessings’ with everyone they see. Songkran is often considered both a spring and summer festival with this time of year characterized by very hot weather and occasional rain showers, and Songkran’s water-related activities such as water fights and the sprinkling of scented water over people’s heads are a fun and meaningful way to cool off from the summer heat. The festival is also marked by lots of meals shared with family and friends of traditional food, music and dance, washing of Buddha images, and a plethora of rituals at the temple. But perhaps most importantly, Songkran is a time for families to come together and pay respects to their ancestors, as well as to give offerings to Buddhist temples in readiness for a hope-filled new year for all.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival of China, is a time of great celebration in Chinese culture. As a spring festival, it marks the end of winter and the start of a new year in the Chinese lunar calendar. There are many interesting facts about Chinese New Year. For example, it is customary to clean the house thoroughly before the festival as a way to symbolically sweep away any bad luck from the previous year. Red decorations are also a common sight during the festival, as red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture. Family reunion is another important aspect of the festival, with people traveling from far and wide to be with their loved ones – Chinese New Year is the biggest annual human migration in the world. Traditional food, such as dumplings and fish, are also a crucial part of the celebrations. Finally, fireworks and firecrackers are a major feature of Chinese New Year, with many Chinese cities holding elaborate displays to mark the occasion. All in all, Chinese New Year is a fun, food-filled, noisy, warm and vibrant celebration of the coming of spring and the start of a new year.
Cherry Blossom Festival
In Japan, the arrival of spring is celebrated with the much revered and celebrated cherry blossom season. The blooming of cherry blossoms, known as ‘Sakura’, is a highly anticipated event, with people flocking to parks and gardens to view the beautiful blossoms. The Cherry Blossom Festival, also known as ‘Hanami’, is one of the most iconic spring festivals in Japan and it is a unique and meaningful celebration of the arrival of spring, the beauty of nature, and the transience of life. It is a time when people come together to celebrate the arrival of spring and the beauty of the cherry blossom trees. It is a very short season, lasting for as long as the cherry blossoms bloom, usually no more than 2 weeks before the blossoms fall to the ground. The festival is also steeped in tradition, with many people having picnics under the trees, known as ‘Ohanami’, and enjoying a wide variety of traditional Japanese food. The season is both heralded and beautified by the blossoms, but there is also meaning behind the cherry blossoms. In Japanese culture, they represent the fleeting nature of life, and their delicate beauty serves as a reminder to us all to appreciate the present moment – a good lesson for us all.
In Korea, the arrival of spring is celebrated with the festival of Seollal, which also marks the Korean New Year. This festival is celebrated in late January or early February and lasts for three days. Seollal, also known as Lunar New Year as it falls on the first day of the lunar calendar which is usually somewhere between late January to mid-February, is a very important time for family reunions. Migrant workers will travel back from the cities to their hometowns to celebrate the New Year with their families. One of the most significant customs during Seollal is the ancestral memorial service, where families pay respects to their ancestors and share a meal together. Another unique aspect of Seollal is the practice of ‘Sebae’, where younger generations bow to their elders to show respect and gratitude. Traditional Korean foods, such as Tteokguk (rice cake soup), are also enjoyed during the festival. Additionally, many Koreans will play traditional games with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. Seollal is very much a spring festival that celebrates family, tradition, and the beginning of a new year.
India and Nepal
Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, is a vibrant and exciting Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and in Nepal. Based on the lunar calendar the festival starts on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun (a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds with February and March) and both signifies the arrival of spring and is also seen as a celebration of the victory of good over evil. One of the most striking elements of the celebration of Holi has to be the colour! Known as ‘Gulal’, celebrants throw coloured powders over each other as a way to celebrate and welcome spring. The coloured powders were originally made from tree flowers and blossoms and were actually good for the skin as well as fun and colourful. With the loss of trees from the urban environment the Gulal is largely made from synthetic dyes today, and occasionally less scrupulous traders may offer unpleasant dyes that are certainly not good for the skin, resulting in skin and eye irritations for some of the celebrants. Holi though is also celebrated with water. Water guns and water balloons are also used during the festival, contributing to the colorful and playful atmosphere. And adding to the ‘heady’ mix of colour, music and fun is ‘Bhang’, a beverage infused with cannabis and widely consumed during the festival. The Holi Festival is a wonderfully fun festival, certainly colourful, a time when people come together and celebrate regardless of caste, class, or gender, making it a time of unity and joy.
Tết is the most important festival of the year in Vietnam. Based on the Lunar New Year, it is both their New Year and a spring festival. As with Chinese New Year, Tết happens on the new moon, the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar. In fact, ‘Tết Nguyên Đán’ translates as ‘Festival of the First Morning of the First Day’, which is somewhere around late January or early February. Celebrated over 3 days, households perform a big spring clean and decorations such as red banners, colourful branches of apricot and peach blossoms, and kumquat trees are set to adorn homes. Families will prepare and cook a wide variety of traditional eats such as banh chung (a square glutinous rice cake stuffed with mung beans) and mut (candied fruit often made from ginger, coconut and butternut squash) to be shared with visitors and neighbours and enjoyed during the festival. All business stops in Vietnam during Tết as everyone travels home to be with family. One of the most important rituals of Tết is the practice of offering special foods and drinks to ancestors and deities as a way to show respect and gratitude. It is believed that these offerings will bring good luck and prosperity to the family in the coming new year. This practice highlights the importance of family and tradition in Vietnamese culture, as well as the spiritual significance of Tet as a spring festival.
If you’re looking for unforgettable travel experiences, then Asia should always be at the top of your list! With vibrant spring festivals, rich cultural heritage, and an enormous variety of delicious food, there’s something for everyone. So why not pack your bags and experience the magic of spring in Asia with Secret Retreats? Contact the Concierges today on firstname.lastname@example.org we are looking forward to Unveiling the essence of Asia to You!
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