Sensational Spring Festivals

Christmas may be over for another year but don’t put away those party hats just yet! There is still plenty to celebrate. People all over the world are preparing to welcome spring in a whole variety of different ways. 

Hoppy New Year

Chinese New Year (Yuan Tan) marks the transition between 2022 and 2023, according to the lunar calendar and the Chinese zodiac. It’s a 15-day-long festival that begins on 22 January and culminates on 5 February with the Chinese Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie). 2023 will be the year of the rabbit – the luckiest of all twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. 

What to look out for

People often celebrate Chinese New Year with family banquets, fireworks, and dancing dragon parades. During the lantern festival children go out at night carrying paper lanterns. These lanterns have riddles on them for people to solve. Sounds like something our AQUILAnauts might enjoy!

Want to try? 

Why not design and make your own lantern from brightly coloured tissue or crepe paper. What other materials could you use? Could you add a riddle of your own? Choose traditional red and gold tones to show a feeling of light and warmth.

Chinese Lantern Festival - Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash

Perfect pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is also called Pancake Day, and it falls on 21 February this year. Shrove Tuesday marks the day before the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday), when Christians commemorate the period of 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying. Here at AQUILA HQ we LOVE pancakes and will be having them for breakfast, lunch AND dinner that day!

In places such as New Orleans in the USA, Venice in Italy, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago, carnivals are held in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday. They’re known as Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday!

What to look out for

Keep one eye on the ceiling at all times! A badly flipped pancake could fall on your head at literally any moment. 

Want to try

You can throw your own mini Mardi Gras, or enlist the help of a responsible grown-up and make some pancakes. Click here for a fantastic recipe.

Mardi Gras - Photo by Johanna Paula Perez - Vinluan on Unsplash

Spring, love and new life

The Hindu festival of Holi will be celebrated this year on 8 March. In parts of India this coincides with the spring harvest and the blossoming of spring flowers. This is a time of fun and laughter, when people come together to celebrate the end of winter. Holi usually begins the night before with lighting bonfires to symbolise the triumph of good over evil. After the bonfires, people throw coloured water or paint over each other. There is music and dancing and sometimes processions of large floats decorated with statues of the gods.

What to look out for

COLOUR! Holi is famous for dancing, singing and people throwing powder paint and coloured water. (Before you throw anything at anyone do remember to ask first!).

Want to try

Cover your clothes and work area with a protective cover (trust me, you won’t regret it), then use a sponge to slightly dampen a sheet of sugar paper. Experiment with splashing, splurging and sprinkling brightly coloured paint onto it. What amazing effects can you create?

If you like the sound of this incredibly colourful festival then you will go absolutely mad for our Science of Colour issue of AQUILA. Click here, to subscribe immediately. Now, back to learning about wonderful springtime festivals…

Jewish Festival of Passover

Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) between 5 April and 13 April this year, to remember the exodus of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, under the direction of Moses. In Israel, during the first night of Passover, everyone participates in a special meal called the seder. A book called the Haggadah is used to tell the story of the Exodus in the form of prose, poetry and song. 

What to look out for

Look out for matzo – an unleavened (flat) bread made with only flour and water. This is eaten during Passover to remind Jewish people of the bread the Israelites took with them when they hurried out of Egypt towards freedom.

Want to try

A great topping for matzo is charoset. You will need: some apples, a pinch of cinnamon, some chopped walnuts (use crushed oats if allergic) and some grape juice. Peel and chop the apples finely, add the chopped nuts (or oats), cinnamon and a dash of the juice to make the mixture moist. Mix together and eat spread on your cracker of choice. Yum!

Charoset and Matzo

Sikh Festival of Vaisakhi

This year the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi (sometimes written Baisakhi) will be held on 14 April.

It was originally celebrated to give thanks for the spring harvest in the Punjab region of northern India but now festivities are held all over the world, wherever Sikh communities live.

During the day people visit places of worship called gurdwaras, which are specially decorated for the occasion. There are also processions and parades through the streets. The wearing of bright vibrant clothing is particularly popular. There is the singing of hymns and readings from the scriptures.

What to look out for

The nagar kirtan is a street procession with lots of singing, chanting and colourful clothing. To be fair I doubt you could miss it – you’ll probably hear it coming a mile off.

Want to try? 

Design some colourful outfits for wearing at the festival. Cut out a template of a boy and girl from cardboard and draw round them to form an outline. Find pictures of people taking part in the festival and then design your own clothes to colour in the figures. The colours red, orange and yellow are especially popular. If you are feeling more energetic, research the main steps for the dance called bhangra. This is a traditional folk dance that comes from the Punjab region of India and would be included in the festival.

Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan - by Mack Male from Edmonton , via Wikimedia Commons


The Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the month–long fast of Ramadan. It is a happy time for parties, food and gift-giving. During Ramadan, which this year ends on 21 April, many adult Muslims and some children do not eat and drink while there is daylight. When night-time comes and the Sun has set, they can have their evening meal. Ramadan is a very important time for Muslims to think about others. The festival of Eid lasts for about three days. New clothes are worn, food is eaten and gifts are given to family and friends. Lots of people give and receive Eid cards decorated with writing or Islamic designs and patterns. The cards often have ‘Eid Mubarak’ printed or written on them, which says ‘Blessed Festival’.

What to look out for

Happy faces. Muslim people celebrate Eid by visiting the mosque, visiting family, enjoying special meals together and giving children presents. 

Want to try?

Make Eid cards using mathematical designs. Many Islamic patterns are based on shapes – squares, rectangles, triangles and hexagons that interlock or tessellate, fitting together without leaving any gaps. Symmetry and movement are also important. Design a shape and draw round it on paper. Then ‘translate’ – move the shape to other positions on the paper. Use different colours to decorate the shapes.

Photo by Rawan Yasser on Unsplash

Written by John Davis