It seems that, by the very nature of being human, something within us celebrates the arrival of spring.
Locally, area residents will observe annual events affiliated with religious services and egg hunts.
The Noble Street Festival is to kick off spring celebrations in Anniston. Included in the event is the Sunny King Criterium, part of the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour. The event, set for Saturday, April 7, from noon until 6 p.m., and includes food, music, and kids’ activities. It is free except for some activities and the Taste of Downtown food feature.
The Longleaf Studio in Jacksonville is to host the annual Longleaf Spring Movie Series. This year’s feature is the documentary, “Bending the Arc,” which tells how a group of doctors and activists traveled to Haiti during the 1980s and started a medical program that has since spread across the world. The showing will be at 6 p.m. for pizza and at 7 p.m. for the film viewing on Thursday, April 5, at 1 O’Connell St. Guests can enjoy free pizza. There is no charge, but those interested in attending should RSVP online at www.longleafstudios.com. Those with questions may call Logan Justice at 256-365-1650 or Daniel Kennedy at 205-473-5397. The filmmaker will be present and available for a question-and-answer period.
Elsewhere the state, Mobile is to host a Spring Fling Music Festival on Saturday, April 7, from 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Nationally known singers of southern soul, blues, and R&B will perform. Tickets range from $37.50 - $75. Huntsville is the site of the Panoply Arts Festival from April 27-29, featuring art, music, and other activities in the downtown Spring Park. Day passes are $10, and weekend passes are $18. Children 12 and under free.
The premier event in the United States is the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. and takes place from March 17-April 15. It includes an opening ceremony on Saturday, March 24, the Blossom Kite Festival on March 31, the Petalpalooza on Saturday, April 7, and other events. The annual parade will be on Saturday, April 14. The Festival started in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo gave thousands of cherry blossom trees that still grace the Capital today.
I was fortunate to see those trees in bloom as a teen when the Anniston High School band competed in a marching competition in the late 1960s and, once again, I saw them in bloom a few years ago. Every American should visit the Capital once in their lifetime, and April would be a good time.
Many American citizens of Hispanic origin celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Saturday, May 5, to remember the defeat of the French Army by the Mexican Army in 1862. Festivals featuring dancing, food, music, and performances are held in many cities throughout the nation, particular in the West and Mid-South.
Atlanta hosts the Dogwood Festival featuring arts and crafts on April 13-15. Callaway Gardens near Pine Mountain, Ga., hosts a Spring Celebration with an emphasis on flowers, arts, vegetables, music, and drama. It runs through April 29. Check only to learn of the various events. The Biltmore Festival of Flowers in Asheville, N.C., emphasizes food, wine, flowers, children’s activities, and daily seminars throughout the next two months.
Farther away are other celebrations. Rochester, N.Y., hosts the Rochester Lilac Festival. A park of 120 acres features dozens of varieties of lilacs, of which I am especially fond. There is hardly anything with a better fragrance or more beautiful color, but I have not had success growing my own.
Most every city in American of any size will be busy with rodeos, parties, concerts, plays, and all kinds of other outdoor activities.
The United States is not alone in celebrating spring. India celebrates Holi, a celebration similar to the currently popular color runs. The celebrants take part in bonfires and parties leading up to a day when people gather on the streets for a color fight with dyed powder. Friendship and forgiveness of past conflicts are celebrated.
Bosnia’s hundreds-of-years-long celebration of Cimburijada takes place each spring. The word means “Festival of Scrambled Eggs.” People gather and eat free scrambled eggs prepared in giant pots. Eggs, of course, are symbols of newness.
During the Songkran Festival in Thailand, residents use the time to pay respect to others, especially the elderly. Young people pour scented water over the hands of older residents to bring them luck and prosperity. Food is brought to monks, and Buddha statues are bathed in water.
Residents of Valencia, Spain dress in medieval clothing and celebrate “Fallas,” which means “puppet.” Millions gather in city streets to observe entertainment that features fireworks and other forms of fire. It ends when they burn paper maché figures stuffed with firecrackers.
South Holland carries out a 12-hour-long parade from Noordwijk to Haarlem. Called the Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek, it features floats made of spring flowers. Residents line the streets to celebrate tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.
Residents of Japan picnic beneath cherry tree blossoms, a metaphor for life’s transience and beauty. The Japanese dine on pickled cherry blossom leaves and drink saki.
Dating back to 1728, residents of Brasov, Romania, gather to watch a parade featuring seven groups of costumed young men ride decorated horses throughout its streets. Residents dance and sing. The men take part in a competition to see who can hurl a scepter the highest. At the parade’s end, the community hosts a barbecue.
No matter how or where people choose to celebrate, spring is a joyous time.
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