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Spring Celebrations

spring religious celebrations

April 04, 2023

Spring and the vernal equinox usher in many religious holidays, observances, and celebrations for persons around the world. For those of both Jewish and Christian faiths, this is a time of significant meaning and faith with the celebrations of Passover and Easter. For other cultures, the vernal equinox represents a new beginning, growth, and shedding of negativity of the previous year. 

Passover, observed this year April 5-13, is a major Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites escape from slavery in Egypt. This holiday is celebrated with food, prayer, and reading from the Haggadah, Hebrew for “telling”, tells the story of Passover and is read during the Seder. While the Haggadah outlines the order in which persons eat, pray, drink wine, and sing during the Seder, it also tells the story of the suffrage that Jewish people have experienced through history and celebrates the survival and strength of the Jews. In the Talmud it is written, ‘in every generation a person is obligated to view themselves if they personally left Egypt.’ Jewish people ensure that the story and importance of the events of the exodus are passed from generation to generation. 

For those of Christian faith, two of the most significant events are observed during the spring. The death of Jesus is observed on Good Friday and commemorates His crucifixion and death at Calvary. On the third day following His death, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus, considered the foundation on which Christianity is built, celebrates God’s ultimate sacrifice for the sins of his believers.  

Persons of other cultures and religions also celebrate Spring and the vernal equinox in varied ways. For over five thousand years Druids and Pagans alike have observed the spring equinox at Stonehenge as they welcome in the time for rebirth, fertility, and new beginnings. For many Native cultures the equinoxes marked migration periods with the vernal equinox signaling the return of plants and animals for nations in the northern hemisphere. In Mexico, a celebration is held at Chichen Itza as the sun creates the impression of a snake on the stones said to attract the Mayan deity Kukulkan who fertilized the earth for the beginning of planting season. 

Originating in Iran over three thousand years ago, Nowruz, Persian New Year, is now celebrated by persons in India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Pakistan as well. The Nowruz custom of jumping over fire symbolizes the burning away of negativity from the past year. Translating as ‘new day’, Nowruz represents revival and renewal for the new year. 

Although holidays and observances for every religion and culture may celebrate, pray, and gather differently, there is commonality in the celebration of freedom and new beginnings. The various observances often involve the gathering of family to share meals, song, and thankfulness. 

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For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI & Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkitfrom the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.