As students of a Catholic University, we are all aware of the celebration of Easter that occurs each spring. It is a well known Christian holiday. Spring means different celebrations for other world religions. Some of these celebrations we may recognize while others may be more unfamiliar.
We’ll start with the most similar celebration: Orthodox Easter, also known as Pascha. This holiday is celebrated officially in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. This year it falls on May 1st for the majority of Orthodox Christians with the Ukraine celebrating on May 2nd. It is typically celebrated by a special mass with each country having different accompanying practices. The Orthodox Christians also celebrate Good Friday at a different time– April 29th this year. It is observed very similarly to the Catholic version with Greece holding a Procession of the Epitáphios of Christ which involves public mourning and the carrying of a ritual coffin through the streets.
For example, in Lebanon it is custom to hold a special lunch with foods like turkey or chicken stuffed with nuts and rice as well as maamoul or cookies. It is also normal to spend the day visiting friends and family. In Greece it is a large celebration where there is roasted lamb and wine. People will gather to feast, talk and dance for the night.
Another holiday during the Spring season in the Jewish celebration of Passover which occurs this year from April 22-30. Passover is a holiday meant to commemorate God’s liberation of the Jews from Egypt, otherwise known as the Exodus. It goes on for a full week and includes a ritual Seder dinner. The Seder dinner usually includes lamb, unleavened bread and other traditional food items. There is also the reciting of the story of the Exodus during the dinner. The rest of the week is marked by refraining from eating any leavened food products.
There is also a Hindu holiday marked during the springtime: Ramnavami, celebrated on April 15th this year. The festival is a celebration of the birth of the god Rama. The day typically includes a ceremonial wedding performed by the temple priest called a Kalyanam. There is also a procession of the image of Rama. In individual homes there are usually community meals and small idols of Rama in a cradle placed in homes to offer prayers to. Some observers also follow a very strict diet for the occasion.
The Baha’i festival of Ridvan is another Spring celebration that begins on the sunset of April 20th and continues until May 2nd. It it the most holy celebration of the Baha’i faith and celebrates the beginning of the prophethood of Bahá’u’lláh. Work is prohibited on the 1st, 9th and 12th days of the festival. Those three holy days are observed with a community gathering to pray, followed by a celebration.
Spring is an important time for many religions, even if in the United States we typically give most of the attention to Easter (which has also become a commercial holiday for many people). We need to recognize that spring is a time of renewal and a time of importance for many other religions and people around the world.