March Customs and Celebrations from Around the World
Every month has its share of festivals and customs. Here is a short description of those colorful and strangely named March customs that have just been - or are very soon going to be – observed:
1. Hali (Holi), the festival of colors, observed by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, occurs late February – early March in India, Nepal and Indian diasporas. On the first evening of Holi celebrations, bonfires are lit, symbolizing the death of Demon Holika. The second day, also known as Dhulundi is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water on each other, celebrating the victory of good over evil. Another highlight of this celebration is thandai, a drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, milk and sugar.
2. Saint David’s Day is the national day in Wales that falls on 1st March each year. This day is celebrated with parades, food festivals, concerts and street parties. People wear a daffodil, which is the traditional symbol of Wales or a small leek, the symbol of St. David. There is also a dish associated with St. David’s Day – cawl, a thick broth of meat and vegetables.
3. Martisor is a Romanian tradition that marks springs arrival, celebrated on March 1st, on this day people offer each other interwoven red and white bows, called martisors. Men will also offer flowers, especially snowdrops. The martisors are worn for nine days, each day is called baba and you should choose one of these days, it is said that if on the day you chose the weather is beautiful, you will have a good year.
4. Baba Marta (Grandmother March) is the Bulgarian celebration of March 1st, tradition says that Marta is an angry old lady who changes her mood. On March 1st, people, especially children and women, begin wearing martenitsa - red and white threads – and they keep it until they see a stork or a blooming tree. After that they tie martenitsas in fruit trees whishing for a good year. On Baba Marta, martenitsas can be also tied to door handles or domestic animals.
5. Whuppity Scoorie is a custom held in Lanark, Scotland on the 1st March. On this date a large group of children run around a church swinging balls of paper over their heads. It is not a contest, but at the end the children scramble for coins.
6. Chalanda Marz, meaning 1st of March, is a custom from Engadine, Switzerland. On this day boys put on costumes and march throughout the village singing and ringing bells, announcing spring’s arrival. They receive freshly baked cakes, apples, even money.
7. In Japan on March 3rd it is celebrated Hina Matsuri, the Doll’s Festival, a day to whish growth and happiness to girls. Dolls dressed in period costumes are displayed on a tiered stand. Most families with girls make offerings of peach blossom and hina arare (rice crackers) to dolls.
These customs are set in the first half of March and are just the beginning of celebration. As the March equinox approaches, falling this year on March 20, other rituals, customs and holidays will be celebrated, especially in the northern hemisphere, marking springs installment.