Nine refreshing ways to celebrate Spring
Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, etc etc. If putting away your big jumper isn’t enough of a celebration of Spring for you, why not try one of these Festivals?
The Holi festival in northern India dates back to the 4th century: it's a bit like a "dry" water-fight and involves chucking coloured powders over other people to celebrate Spring. The use of colours derives from competing legends, and observance of Holi is multi-denominational. It’s noisy, raucous and... colourful. Recreate it in your garden by throwing poster paints around: but steer clear of the clean washing.
2. Cheese rolling
Oh come on, what do you mean you’ve never been cheese rolling? Get yourself down to Cooper's Hill in Gloucester and, um, roll some cheese down it.
The tradition may date back to pre-Roman times: some say it's to do with maintaining grazing rights and others say it's linked to a fertility rite.
The prize is a round of Double Gloucester cheese. Descending the hill can be hazardous to life and limb: it's a Health and Safety officer's nightmare. But this is exactly the type of thing that makes other nations sigh and say, “Oh, those crazy Brits”.
If you’d rather your food hadn’t been rolled down a hill first, then why not enjoy the festival of scrambled eggs, or Cimburijada, held every year in the Bosnian town of Zenica?
It happens on the 21st of March in a field next to the river, and involves pretty much all of the village – many of whom set up tents the night before to be first in on the action, which often involves a first dip of the season in the icy river.
Then out comes a massive pan, a shed-load of eggs (traditional symbols of Spring) and the whole village digs in.
4. Walpurgis Night
A little more dark and mysterious, this. Walpurgis Night, marked since the 19th century in Central Europe and Scandinavia, occurs exactly six months after All Hallows Eve.
It's also known as "Witches' Night": referencing a mythical convention of witches on the Brocken (the highest mountain in Germany's Harz mountains).
Dancing and bonfires, yes, but no wicker man...
5. Las Fallas
Las Fallas, in Valencia, Spain, starts with people burning the wood they’ve saved for winter before descending into a rowdy five-day celebration.
The Festival is focused on Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. During the winter, carpenters used to fix up planks of wood to support the candles which lit their work; in the Spring, these planks would be burned to signify the end of Winter. Over time, these planks evolved into effigies of local personalities – the precursors of today's enormous, elaborate satirical "ninots".
Puppets, carnival floats, music… what’s not to like?
More hardcore Spring fans can climb the 360 steps to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, in a sub-valley of the Valley of Mexico.
The Pyramid is a magnet for people on the day of the Spring Equinox, many of whom dress in white and make the climb in the morning to catch the rays of the sun rising over the Apan Mountains.
The idea, according to New Age thinkers, is that mankind's proximity to the Equinox opens portals of energy: to get to the top and stand with arms outstretched brings you closer to the energy source.
The ancient feast of Nowruz was first celebrated by what may be the oldest religion, Zoroastrianism. Spring Equinox, when day balances night, is a celebration for many people in Iran and across western Asia, for whom the festival marks the start of the New Year.
Seek out some delicious Persian recipes, from herbed and spiced rice and smoked fish, to that tantalising sweet – baklava.
You can enjoy the intensity of beautiful pink blossoms from a distance or up close.
But in Japan, Hanami is an annual celebration which acknowledges the cyclical beauty of nature. This usually entails going on a picnic under sakura (cherry blossoms) which grow in abundance in Japan, and involves lots of eating, drinking, and even sometimes singing...
9. Spring cleaning
This is NOT the boring alternative because once you’ve done it you’ll feel purged, alive and ready for the joy of whatever spring and summer brings. Take stuff to the charity shop, clear the freezer of all the “something beige in Tupperware” boxes, polish everything that needs polishing, open the windows and you'll be bringing some spring light and energy into the house. Vase of daffs – done.