Across the world spring is seen as a time of renewal. It is a time for new beginnings and heralds a season of happiness and growth. As in many communities worldwide, spring is often celebrated in the UK around certain traditions and customs – and they’re mostly fun and represent the happiness with which the new season is greeted. To help get you in the spring spirit, we’re going to take a look at some of those traditions that accompany the new season.
May Day Festival
Traditionally, the May Day Festival is always celebrated on the 1st of May every year. It’s an old spring tradition and is still celebrated today, albeit in a different form. Its roots can be dated back to pre-Christian times, to the Floralia, an ancient festival that honoured the Roman goddess of flowers, who was known as Floralia. It was also a festival to celebrate the richness of the soil, the people of the region and fertility of livestock.
Various customs exist around the first day of May. For instance, the Festival of Beltane – celebrated by the ancient druids of the British Isles – introduced the custom of lighting huge fires in celebration of the sun. The tradition of maypoles also goes back many centuries in an effort to bring together communities. A maypole dance is often performed to celebrate the new spring season.
In modern times, some adjustments have been made to the original festival. In 1978, for instance, the May Day Bank Holiday was introduced in the UK, and today the 1st of May is also celebrated globally as International Worker’s Day.
Food and Drink Spring Festivals
Spring is the time when a lot of Britain’s traditional foods are at their best, from lamb to nettles to wild garlic. Today, cities around the country celebrate spring as a time to enjoy the best of British cuisine and to break out the picnic blankets and, if they’re brave, barbecues!
In Liverpool one of the main spring attractions simply has to be the Liverpool Food and Drink Spring Festival which will be held this year on the 15th and 16th of April. It attracts around 45,000 visitors every year. Wonderful food, drinks and fun promise to make this, the 3rd of its kind, an unforgettable spring experience for those who appreciate the good things in life. Children are also catered for and those who are interested in crafts and the arts will have lots to check out as well.
Literature festivals have been popular for a long time in the UK and spring is a great time for those too. The St Ives Literature Festival takes place between the 13th and 20th of May and draws visitors from far and wide. It has a rich history of famous writers and painters who having enjoyed the surroundings and produced some of their work there. Come and listen to writers and poets entertain you with readings – you can even attend workshops. Musicians also complement the mood.
Another similar festival takes place in the city of Bath between the 19th and the 28th of May. Staged in various venues across the city you will be entertained by great singers, be able to listen to renowned writers and hear the opinions of leading figures in the world of politics, literature and music.
Sports Lovers have a great range of choice in Britain every spring. Famous attractions, for both competitors and spectators include the London Marathon, which this year takes place on Sunday the 23rd of April. One of the most celebrated events in the world of sports, it attracts athletes from all over the world and is sure to have spectators lining the streets for a glimpse of friends, family and their favourite athletes.
The Passion of Jesus
Every year on Good Friday you can watch a re-enactment of The Passion of Jesus on Trafalgar Square in London. This year it takes place on the 14th of April. It is a dramatisation of Jesus’ crucifixion and gives us a glimpse of what Christ must have endured during his last days.
An unusual spring tradition dates back to the 13th century and is known as the Tichborne Dole. It takes place in Hampshire near Alresford every year on the 25th of March. It celebrates a certain Lady Maybela who, on her deathbed, made her husband Sir Roger de Tichborne promise her he would be kind to the poor and that he would hand out some wheat flour to them. This was to happen every year on this day. The custom – although interrupted in 1796 – has survived until this day.
The New Season
Once winter slowly retreats, spring invites everybody to partake of everything bright and new, and what could be better than sharing in the fun of old customs and being reminded of age-old traditions to celebrate the season?