Semana Santa (Holy Week)
April 20 2014
Spain, Italy, Mexico and America
Across the Spanish Speaking world as well as other European country rejoice Easter week in gusto. The streets are covered in intricate alfombras (carpets) of colored sawdust and flower petals, dense clouds of incense envelop the street. Many of other penitents walk alongside, ready for their turn to carry the floats. The most significant of Seville’s Semana Santa parade happens at midnight on Maundy Thursday (ushering in Good Friday).
Around 115 floats are carried by almost 60,000 hooded members of 57 religious brotherhoods. Each cofradía typically carries two floats, one containing a figure of Christ and the other with a statue of the Virgin. The processions are so long, and the floats so heavy that they may take more than an hour to pass.
World Marbles Championships
April 18- (Good Friday)
Though the tournament faces an uncertain future, the world marbles championship, the roots of which dates back over five centuries is held on Good Friday each year. Teams from the USA, Australia and other European nations participate in the team event alongside the hosts Great Britain. The tournament is held in London.
Bisket Jatra (Nepali New Year)
Khalna Tole, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Bisket Jatra, signifies the beginning of the Nepali New Year. It is a celebration of two famous deities of the town of Bhaktapur. A couple of days before the New Year, the deities are lifted onto mighty chariots and lugged through the town by the virile young men of the Kathmandu valley. The eastern and western sides of town have an almighty tug of war in which the chariot is the central pivot.
Sisters’ Meal Festival
15th-16th days of the third lunar month
Otherwise called the Sister’s Rice Festival, beginning on the 15th day of the third lunar month, is a festival unique to the Chinese province of Guizhou. According to mythology, three lovesick sisters, whose spirits were possessed by a great bearded Chinese god, were told to prepare five rolls of colored rice. When young men descended the valley, they were offered the food, and the three girls found their soul mates.
Filled with symbolism, each girl, during the festival, gives an approaching young man a parcel. According to the symbolism attached, the two young people could get married. The festival is a kind of match making ceremony involving the entire province.
Songkran Water Festival (Thai New Year)-
13-15 April, Thailand
A countrywide water fight, the Songkran Festival is celebrated in Thailand as the official New Year’s Day.
All across the country, beginning from April 13 and up to the 15th, neighbors turn hoses on each other and chuck water balloons and pails of water on suspecting and unsuspecting passers-by.
The Lunar New Year in Thailand is an occasion when images of the Buddha are ‘bathed’ and young Thais seek the blessing of their elders by bucketing aromatic water over their hands (a ceremony known as rod nahm dum hua).
Feria de San Marcos (Festival of St Mark)
Mid- April 2014, Spain and Mexico
Modeled somewhat along the Seville Fair, Mexico’s largest annual state fair started out like it’s Spanish counterpart, as a simple agriculture and livestock show but now routinely attracts one million visitors a year with exhibitions, beauty pageants, rodeos, free concerts and other cultural events. The entire city takes a holiday for the duration of the festival and the nights come alive with street parties dotting every corner of Aguascalientes State, Mexico.
Bullfights take place in the Plaza de Toros Monumental bullring on Expoplaza, and the cockfighting ring is within the casino, which is itself one of the fair’s greatest, draw cards. The culmination of the fair is the multicolored parade on 25 April, the feast day of St Mark, featuring period dress, folk dances and flamenco.
Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night)
30 April, Germany
According to local mythology, witches and warlocks gather on Walpurgisnacht at Harz Mountains before flying off to 1142m Brocken on broomsticks or goats. There they narrate the year’s evil deeds and top off the stories with a bacchanalian frenzy, said to represent copulation with the devil.
Scared peasants used to hang crosses and herbs on stable doors to protect their livestock; ringing church bells or cracking whips were other ways to prevent stray witches from dropping by. People dress as witches and toss away all reserve as they dance around fires.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Last weekend of April
New Orleans, USA
The Jazz festival in the city is one of the biggest reasons to party in New Orleans. The two-week of great music across 10 stages, is very closely linked to the city as it first started as the 250-anniversary celebration of the city on 1968 and it continues till now as a custom. The event not only witnesses great Jazz music but also showcase different form of music.
Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos (Moors & Christians Festival)
In order to celebrate the region liberation from the Muslim rule in 13th century, more than 80 towns in Valencia holds Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos. The locals dress in the traditional clothes and walk around the town, representing different factions like Muslims, Christians, slaves, guild groups, town criers, and heralds, giving a spectacular view of history of the place.
All, 28 ‘armies’ organize for a full year to wage war for three days, commence with daylong parades on 22 April and closing in a cloud of gunpowder smoke two days later when the artificial warfare hits its pillaging straps. And in the end Christians wins the war.
30 April, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Queen’s day, nationwide holiday honours Queen Beatrix (though it’s held on the birth date of her mother Queen Juliana) in Amsterdam. On this day anyone can sell anything they like as its free market throughout the city. Street parties, live music, dense crowds and lots of beer fill the life of the city; all the people wear anything and everything in Orange. This is less because it’s the national colour and more importantly also a fact that the Queen’s royal heredity goes back to William of Orange.