As the earth awakens from the sleep of winter into the light of spring, it’s a time to celebrate. Each faith and tradition has its own method of commemorating the return of the light through prayer, ritual and merriment.
Inspirit Crystals offers a guide to some of the festivals and holidays of the spring and the various ways in which people honor these sacred days.
HOLI AND DHULETI, HINDU
Holi and Dhuleti are a joyous, bright set of Hindu holidays that celebrate the harvest and the end of winter. Holi always falls on the full moon in the month of March (Phalguna) and Dhuleti falls on the following day.
Also known as the Festival of Colors, Holi and Dhuleti have their roots in a celebration commemorating the death of Holika, a demoness. The King of the Demons, Hiranyakshipu was granted a favor by Brahma which made him very difficult to kill. Because of this near invincibility, he tried to force the people to stop worshipping the gods and to worship only him. His son, Prahlad, continued to pray to Lord Vishnu and despite Hiranyakashipu’s attempts to kill his son, Vishnu protected young Prahlad. Finally, Hiranyakashipu ordered Prahlad to sit on a pyre in the lap of his Aunt, Holika. Holika could not be burned because she wore a special wrap but when Prahlad prayed to Vishnu to again keep him safe from harm, the wrap flew from Holika onto Prahlad who was protected. Holika was destroyed.
Hindus from all walks of like can celebrate Holi and Dhuleti at the close of winter Holi brings bonfires that are lit to symbolically commemorate the banishment of evil and the death of Holika. The fires bring on the warmth of spring by casting out the cold. Dhuleti is a day of fasting, prayer, feasting and of “throwing colors” in the form of colored powders and colored water. These holidays are also known for practical joking, folk dancing and playing cards.
Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the Jewish month Adar. It celebrates the deliverance of the Jews by Esther and Mordecai from Haman, a prominent Persian official. It is a holiday of great celebration that is marked with a great feast and it is one of the most joyous and holy of Jewish holidays.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
St. Patrick’s Day honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 and Americans typically march in parades, and gather in Irish Pubs to make merry, sing Irish songs and dance Irish jigs. People often wear green in tribute to Ireland, the Emerald Isle. This holiday is actually celebrated on the day St. Patrick died which was believed to be in approximately 461 AD.
The Vernal Equinox is celebrated throughout the faiths in many ways, be it Easter, Ostara or Higan or Lady Day. As the daylight and nighttime become equal in the Northern Hemisphere it is a time to celebrate the quickening of the earth.
The Spring Equinox is said to be an excellent time for planting and rituals relating to fertility and abundance, as well as growth. A simple way to help manifest your plans for the spring and summer would be to charge any seeds that you plant with your intentions and place them in an egg shell or near eggs. As the seeds grow you’ll be consistently reminded of your intention which will help you achieve your goals.
Additionally, this is an ideal time to conduct spring cleaning and ritual smudging to drive out any negative energy in your home from a winter cooped up indoors. For example, using cedar or sage to smudge your home, and scrubbing your floors and windows in a clockwise direction will help push out negative energy and generate good energy for growth and prosperity.
This is also wonderful time for spells relating to communication and group interactions as old feelings can be sloughed off to welcome in the new. Set an intention and work with a healing crystal, like spirit quartz, known for its communication properties.
If you can be outdoors at the Vernal Equinox, it’s a wonderful time to have a bonfire, enjoy the outdoors and in many cases, couples will hand fast at this time because it’s ideal for new beginnings.
Welcome in the light of spring and the abundance that summer will bring.
As Easter got its name from the goddess of spring and the dawn, Oestre or Eastre, so does the pagan celebration of the Vernal Equinox, Ostara. The Vernal Equinox and Ostara usually falls at some point between the 19th and the 22nd of March. Ostara is a holiday celebrating spring and growth and the renewal of life on earth after winter.
This is a celebration of the return of balance on the earth as Spring brings night and day into equilibrium. Symbols of Ostara include flowers and eggs which were ultimately adopted by Christianity as symbols of Easter as well.
The foods associated with Ostara are leafy green vegetables, dairy foods like milk and cheese, pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Flowers used in Ostara ritual and celebration include daffodils, violet, peonies narcissus and all other early spring flowers. Many people burn jasmine, rose and other floral incense and keep jasper, the Ostara gemstone on their altar or close at hand. Ostara is a wonderful day to commune with nature in long walks or in planting.
SHUN-BUN-NO-HI / HIGAN
Higan is celebrated in Japan at the spring and autumn equinoxes. In the spring, Higan is a festival of light and beginning but at both times of year, these holidays are considered special times of transition. The seasonal change celebration is also a time when the seeking of transition from samsara, or illusion to nirvana, or enlightenment. Remembrance of the dead and joy of birth and rebirth is an important method of celebrating and marking these occasions.
This holiday commemorates the birth of Rama, the reincarnation of the god Vishnu. Hindus are supposed to fast, or keep themselves to a specific diet. Rama Navami is a universal holiday in the Hindu religion, offering a break from social tensions and an opportunity for everyone to celebrate together. The holiday can be marked on one day or in some places, it lasts nine days. In many instances, on the ninth night of Rama Navami, Hindus will stay awake all night in anticipation of Rama’s birth and then they will celebrate with the dawning of the new day by holding a thanksgiving feast.
This day also celebrates the end of the nine day utsavam called Vasanthothsavam, which is also known as the festival of spring.
To celebrate Rama Navami, Hindu temples are decorated with colors and there are readings of the Ramayana. There are several Hindu God’s that are celebrated on this day including, Shri Ram Lakshman and Hanuman.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and celebrates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. According to the Gospels, he was met by a crowd waving branches of palm. Palm Sunday also begins Holy Week, which ends with the celebratory Easter Sunday.
Good Friday is the Friday of Holy Week, and it marks Christ’s death upon the cross as redemption for all sins. Good Friday is considered a solemn holiday marked by prayer and introspection.
Easter Sunday should fall on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, so this means Easter can fall between March 21 and April 25. Easter is the high point of the Christian year and is celebrated by all Christians. Easter commemorates the day of Christ’s Resurrection and it therefore an occasion of special joy. Easter ends the fasting of Lent and is usually marked by a feast featuring lamb, symbolizing Christ’s role as the Lamb of God. Easter eggs, brightly painted and colored, are another frequent symbol. Interestingly, the Easter Bunny, a traditional fixture in Christian celebration, has been linked to an ancient spring fertility symbol that has been absorbed into Christian observance.
PASSOVER OR PESACH
is celebrated on the 15th of the Jewish month Nisan (usually in April). It commemorates the deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, as recounted in the biblical Book of Exodus. Passover celebrations focus on a ritual dinner called the Seder. The meal involves a number of practices: Matzoh, an unleavened cracker, is eaten, as are charoset (a mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine), and bitter herbs. The unusualness of these practices is quite deliberate: each is intended to commemorate some aspect of the Exodus. These customs are particularly intended to attract the interest of children, who are encouraged to ask their meaning and so be reminded of the Israelites’ deliverance. Passover is celebrated over an eight-day period, during which time no hametz (yeast products) are eaten.
BELTANE (MAY DAY)
Beltane, or May Day, is a joyous spring holiday celebrated across many holidays and faiths. It is also known as the Festival of Light and is known for the celebration of Planting, spring and Rebirth.
The Origins of Beltane come from an ancient Gaelic Festival. Beltane is celebrated opposite the celebration of Samhain and it falls between the Vernal and Summer Equinox’.
There are a number of God’s and Goddesses that are known as appropriate deities for Beltane. Because Beltane celebrates fertility, the Hunt and love, many people celebrate Aphrodite, Artemis, Diana, Ariel, Astarte, Freya and Rhiannon. Beltane Gods can include Apollo, Bacchus, Pan, Cupid/Eros, Odin, Orion, Frey, and The Great Horned God.
The most traditional symbol of Beltane is the May Pole. The phallic shape of the maypole, wrapped in colorful ribbons is symbolic of fertility and the planting of seeds. Spring flowers in abundance are also used in Beltane, whether in baskets or scattered around their ritual area or on their altar. Other traditional symbols are eggs, chalices and crossroads.
The most traditional flowers associated with Beltane are roses, lilac, bluebells, daisies, marigolds, primroses and violets although any beautiful spring flower that inspires is appropriate.
Other traditional ritual and altar decorations are mirrors and fat pillar candles that bring light and represent fertility. There are incenses associated with Beltane, and they include lilac, rose or vanilla.
VAISAKHAPUJA OR VESAK
The birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha are all celebrated on this holiday, which can take place on different dates in May. This is a time when Buddhists try particularly hard to practice kindness and generosity to each other and to other in their community. This is a great celebratory festival that is incredibly lively and colorful. It is often associated with “Spring Cleaning” and everyone decorates their homes with as much color as possible. People mark the holiday with visits to their temples and they make offerings and wash statues of the Buddha with scented water.
Ascension is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter. It is typically marked with a great feast and celebrates the Ascension of Christ into heaven after his Resurrection