A Spring in your step: Springtime traditions from around the world
Spring has well and truly sprung. It's a time of year that often sees all kinds of festivals, folk traditions and carnivals thrust into the limelight. Now, it's fair to say that this year's been a little different - but on the bright side, we've now got plenty of planning time - so maybe next Spring you can observe one of these traditions you might not have heard of.
1) Throw a bucket of water at your crush in Slovakia
Easter Monday in Slovakia isn't what you might expect based on how the day goes in the UK. While many of us settle in for a lazy bank holiday and eye up any unopened Easter eggs, women in Slovakia (and other Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Poland) are likely to wake up to an ice-cold bucket of water being thrown over them. They might also find themselves being swatted with thin branches of willow.
Hungary's version is Vizbevető, or "Water Plunge Monday." Image source: Wikimedia
Both of these things are supposed to symbolise youth, strength and make women healthy for the upcoming spring season. Men often dress up in traditional garb on Easter Monday, and go door to door throwing water over girls in their neighbourhood - especially ones they might have a crush on. In what seems like an unfair twist for the women, the men are rewarded for their efforts with decorated hard boiled eggs and are often invited into their now-drench target’s household for some food and a shot of vodka.
There are those that aren’t a fan of this tradition, especially if they’re spending all day either changing out of, or standing around in wet clothes - but there’s a silver lining. The day after you’re likely to find girls bragging about the number of drenchings they had to endure, because this means there’s obviously more boys who fancy them.
2) Share a massive breakfast of scrambled eggs in Bosnia
There’s something about having eggs for breakfast that just feels like the right way to start the day, and the population of the city of Zenica (in Bosnia) would seem to agree.
Taking place on March 21st down on the bank of the river Bosna, Cimburijada is a festival that signifies the first day of spring. As with many springtime celebrations, the humble egg is used here to symbolise new life, but this is no decorating competition. Instead, hundreds of eggs are scrambled in massive metal pots, and everyone gets to dig in.
3) Run headlong down a hill after some cheese in Gloucester
Every year in May on the Spring bank holiday, the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling event happens in Gloucester, and it has to be seen to be believed:
Contestants from all over the world put their bodies on the line in this event, all to catch a round of Double Gloucester Cheese that hurtles down Cooper’s Hill. Some estimates claim that the prized dairy reaches speeds of up to 70 miles per hour! This means it’s rarely actually caught, but the first contestant across the finish line at the bottom of the hill is declared the winner - and gets to take an actual cheese home as a prize.
There’s some dispute as to why this event takes place: some say it came about as a way to maintain grazing rights on the common, while others feel the Cheese-Rolling has its origins in pagan traditions of rolling bundles of burning brushwood down a hill to represent the birth of the new year and the end of winter.
4) Have a picnic under one of Japan’s awe-inspiring cherry blossom trees
Japan is world famous for its majestic cherry blossoms, and the tradition of Hanami (which roughly translates as “flower viewing”) celebrates these amazing trees.
Cherry blossoms in bloom. Image source: Wikimedia
People have picnics under the trees to welcome in spring, and these celebrations are often paired with welcoming not just the season, but people as well. The emerging blossoms often coincide with the return to work or school after the holidays, so it’s a great opportunity to connect with new people, or reconnected with old acquaintances.
5) Go to Switzerland to blow up a snowman
Sechseläuten (or Sächsilüüte in the local dialect) takes place once a year in the city of Zürich, on the third Monday in April. Those of you who love a good snowman may want to look away now:
This is the “Burning of the Böögg,” the cherry on the icing of this grand springtime festival of parades and revelry. The origins of Sechseläuten can be traced back to the 16th century, and the city’s various guilds. In the winter, shorter days meant that workers had to down tools at 5.00pm. However, during the spring and summer months, people could work till 6.00pm and still have daylight leftover.
This revised daytime schedule signalled the end of winter and the start of spring, meaning that all of Zurich’s residents knew exactly when the lighter, warmer months were on the way. In celebration, the Böögg (which represents winter) is packed with explosives and burned in effigy.
Did you know: The time between the lighting of the pyre and the Böögg’s head exploding is supposed to indicate what the coming summer will be like? The faster the explosion, the warmer the summer.
Were any of these new to you? We're certainly looking forward to next Spring, which based on this list is going to be nothing but scrambled egg picnics, runaway cheeses and exploding snowmen. Fantastic.History, List, Seasons, Spring, Travel, Weird & Wonderful, World