Spring is a time of rebirth and regeneration and many cultures around the world start it off with important celebrations. In this time of homeschooling, consider a World Cultures class and learn about celebrations and rituals in other cultures and religions. Besides just reading about them, try making a traditional recipe from that culture, to help bridge that distance between different countries and people in this beautiful world of ours. Food is the one thing that connects us all, no matter our beliefs or ethnicity, or how socially distanced we all are.
Eggs are an ancient and important symbol of birth and new life and so they are what many of us associate with spring holiday celebrations. In many places in the world, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the Spring Equinox. This means sometime between the end of March and the end of April. On Easter Sunday, although there are many who have religious ceremonies, it is also a time for Easter Egg hunts that brighten the lives of so many children.
Even during this time of isolation, consider arranging an Easter Egg hunt for your children to help keep a sense of normalcy, positivity and fun. If the weather or your outdoor space won’t allow, hide them through the house. If you want to make it more challenging, write clues that they must solve to get to the next egg or candy stash.
Dying eggs is another great homeschooling art project and will add some fun, colour and celebratory spirit to your home. Hard-boil white shell eggs (you can’t dye the brown ones) then consider drawing patterns or images with wax. Dye in food colouring baths or make your own food colouring with real food! Purple cabbage and beets, onion skins, avocado pits and turmeric can all make beautiful colours. Take the eggs on a picnic or enjoy them for weekend brunch. Keep hardboiled eggs in the fridge before and after they’re dyed. If you want eggs that can stay out of the fridge, you need to create a small hole in the bottom of the shell and blow out all of the egg inside. Try to capture all this egg though, by blowing into a large bowl, and then use them to make a scramble!
In Jewish culture, Passover occurs in the spring and is a celebration of the exodus from Egypt and pilgrimages made to Jerusalem. It is a holiday signified by unleavened bread because during the treks, only this type of bread could last. Known as matzo, this bread is a key feature of Passover feasts like Seder, as are other elements like bitter herbs (e.g. parsley). For the 8 days of Passover, no leavened breads or baking are permitted and so other foods become special at this time like Chicken Soup with Matzo dumplings.
Also at this time of year is the start of the Muslim holiday Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a time of spiritual reflection, when people fast all day from sunrise to sunset. To begin and end this month-long period there are huge feasts! Also, at sunset every day, to break the fast, people participate in Iftar, usually a social gathering with a big buffet. The key dishes of Iftar vary in cultures around the world but dates, watermelon and other desserts are very important, as are main dishes like Jollof Rice and Chicken from African countries, Harees, a grain and meat porridge from the United Arab Emirates, Turkish or Moroccan stews, kebabs and so much more.
Our indigenous communities in Canada also celebrate the end of winter and start of spring with feasts, usually with traditional foods like wild game stews, bannock or other regional delicacies. Spring brings new treats from the forest like fiddleheads and stinging nettle, which is often used to make tea for celebrations.
During this time of isolation, we may want to share our special feasts and celebratory meals while video-conferencing with our family. We may connect with our spiritual and cultural communities in new ways as well with leaders or elders providing online services. But no matter what, we can all be grateful for our health, the food we have to eat, the beautiful spring season that’s upon us and knowing that globally, we are all in this together!