Cultural Spring Observances and Holidays Celebrated Around the World
Updated: Apr 6
Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes a variety of cultural observances and holidays celebrated around the world. Here's more about a number of happenings from Switzerland to South Africa, Ecuador, Thailand, and beyond:
Songkran - Thailand
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year's Day and is celebrated from April 13-15 each year. Meaning the passing of the sun from one sign of the Zodiac to another, Songkran begins when the sun enters the sign of Aries, also closely related to the Vernal Equinox. The celebrations and festivities are known for their throwing of water, a way of paying respect and bringing good fortune.
For travelers looking to experience the best of Thailand, they should look to the Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui. Nestled within a private bay on the Gulf of Thailand on the site of a former coconut plantation, the property boasts breathtaking tropical charms and pristine natural beauty. During their stay, guests are invited to relax and take in their tranquil surroundings while embracing the Samui way of life, with access to secluded beaches, delicious Thai cuisine, a world class Spa Village, and private pools with panoramic views of the ocean.
Sechseläuten - Switzerland
Each year in Switzerland the third Monday in April is Sechseläuten or "the six o'clock ringing of the bells," signifying the chasing away of winter and start of summer. With origins dating back to medieval times, the day is mostly celebrated in the city of Zurich, beginning with banquets and a parade through the city and ending with a sacrificial offering of a Böögg, a giant model of a snowman, that is set on fire. As he burns, men on horseback gallop around him. According to folklore, the quicker the Böögg explodes into flame, the faster spring will come.
Located just three hours outside of Zurich on the shores of Lake Maggiore is Ascona, the perfect weekend getaway for those who can't wait for spring to arrive. The town boasts colorful cafe-filled streets dotted with palm trees and the Alps towering in the background. With elegant villas, exquisite restaurants and luxurious boutiques, it is a truly magical place no matter what time of year. For the ultimate stay in Ascona, travelers should look to Hotel Eden Roc, a charming Mediterranean-inspired resort featuring a private beach and yacht harbor, four outstanding restaurants, including Michelin-starred La Brezza, and a 21,528 square-foot Spa and Wellness center. Travelers can spend their days taking a stroll through the Botanical Gardens on the Brissago Islands, jetting around the lake on one of Eden Roc’s Riva boats, relaxing with a spa treatment, and more.
The Kigali Peace Marathon - Rwanda
The Kigali Peace Marathon began in 2004 as an amateur race that promoted sports in the healing and reconciliation process in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genoicde. Now with over 2,000 runners representing 20 coutnries, the Kigali Peace Marathon is one of the most respected and popular annual sporting events in the region and on the continent.
Set right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park near where more than a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas find refuge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge’s unrivalled position puts lifechanging gorilla trekking experiences within easy reach while celebrating the richness of Rwandan culture. Each of the eight luxurious suites features a private heated plunge pool, wellness treatment area, in- and outdoor fireplaces and large timber-framed windows that welcome breathtaking scenery and volcano views inside.
Mother’s Day - USA
While celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, Mother's Day in the USA dates back to the 19th century as a way to honor motherhood and material bonds. For the perfect trip for Mother's Day, celebrated on May 9, 2021, travelers should try Napa Valley, California to delight in the area’s many wineries, indulge in world-class restaurants, unwind at the various spas, enjoy a hot air balloon ride over Mount St. Helena, Palisade Cliffs and Old Faithful Geyser, and even hop on the Napa Valley Wine Train as it zips through scenic vineyards and rolling hills.
Travelers interested in getting away for Mother's Day can stay in Villa Calistoga. Available for exchange for members of the luxury travel and property club, THIRDHOME, the secluded 8-bed/7-bath estate is located just outside the village of Calistoga in Napa Valley. The panoramic views overlook the vineyards, olive trees, Palisade mountains and Mount St. Helena, transporting the ladies with it’s European vibes.
FetAfrik - The Seychelles
In Seychelles, the annual festival of FetAfrik commemorates the founding of the African Union on May 25, 1963 and celebrates one of the five origins of the Seychellois people. The Seychelles-Africa festival promotes the cultural and historical links between Africa and the 115-island archipelago situated off the continent's eastern coastline. Travelers can celebrate Seychellois history at Fregate Island the noted nature conservation hide-away nearby. Avid naturalists will delight in the 3,500 giant Aldabra tortoises that roam the island and in the endemic population of the Seychelles Magpie Robin, found only on Fregate Island.
The Battle of Pichincha Day - Ecuador
A celebrated holiday in Ecuador on May 24 each year, The Battle of Pichincha Day commemorates the battle that secured the country's independence on this day in 1822. To mark the day, patriotic festivities are held throughout the country, but particularly in the capital city of Quito. Military parades and aerial exhibitions can be spotted, along with celebrations around the Pichincha volcano, offering spectacular views of the city.
Travelers interested in exploring Ecuador can do so with Quasar Expeditions. A leader in experiential travel throughout South America for over 30 years, Quasar offers unforgettable experiences throughout Quito, Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian Amazon, and more. Travelers to Quito in particular can enjoy tours to the various citadels and landmarks that are are recognized for their architecture and decorative elements such as altarpieces, paintings and sculptures. With itineraries ranging from two to five days, explorers can experience the height of Ecuador's history, art, and religion dating back to the 16th century.
Freedom Day - South Africa
Every year in South Africa, April 27 marks Freedom Day, a public national holiday celebrating freedom and commemorating the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. Freedom Day is very significant as it marked the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution. The elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa, were allowed to vote.
Cape Town and Johannesburg are two of the major South African cities that are both rich in history, culture, and new exciting experiences. For the ultimate and exclusive hotels to stay with in these South African cities, travelers should look to Ellerman House for Cape Town, and The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa for Johannesburg. Everything about Ellerman House is quintessential South Africa, showcasing the best in South African culture through art, wine, and food. The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa is a 5-star, all-suite hotel emulating the essence of the city and country with a property that is a unique blend of rich, cultural history with contemporary touches throughout. The Saxon played a part in the rich and transformational history of South Africa, as the property was home to Nelson Mandela for six months while he edited his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. The significant suite occupied by the beloved elder statesman was later named the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite in his honor.