This year, the vernal equinox falls on Wednesday, March 20. At exactly 21:58 UTC, the sun will be exactly above the Earth’s equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the day marks the beginning of spring.

In Washington, D.C., Wednesday also marks the first day of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Each year, people from around the world come to see the beautiful pink and white blossoms on the thousands of flowering cherry trees. For Washingtonians, the cherry blossoms are a welcome sign that spring has arrived.

In Japan, spring is marked with a huge cherry blossom festival, known as hanami. The tradition dates back more than a thousand years. People gather under the blooming trees to eat, drink tea, celebrate and enjoy the cherry blossoms, known as sakura in Japanese. Artists and poets celebrate the short-lived blooms as a symbol of beauty.

In 1912, Japan gave 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. capital city of Washington, D.C. The gift was to honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan. ​

For many countries in Central Asia and the Middle East, the beginning of spring also marks the beginning of a new year. The celebration is called Nowruz. The words "now" and "ruz" means “new day” in Farsi. Countries along the ancient Silk Road trading path, including Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian nations, celebrate Nowruz.

Many in India and Nepal mark the arrival of spring with the Holi festival, known also as the festival of colors or festival of love. People celebrate the festival by covering each other in -- you guessed it -- colors! Children especially enjoy the festival, as they get to throw colored powder and water-filled balloons at others.

People in Valencia, Spain, have their spring celebration called Las Fallas. It is a wild, five-day street festival involving fire. The festival centers on the creation – and burning – of huge colorful statues made of wood, paper and plastic.

Las Fallas begins March 15, with events like bullfights, parades, and cooking and beauty competitions. Then, at midnight on March 20, the city turns off all its streetlights and the statues are set on fire. This marks the end of the festival, and the beginning of spring.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

bloom (v.) /ˈbluːm/ - Produce flowers; be in flower.

  • The tree in my garden is starting to bloom.

powder (n.) /ˈpaʊdə/ -  a dry substance made up of very tiny pieces of something

  • She crushed the peppercorns into a fine powder.

statue (n.)  /ˈstæˌtʃuː/  - a figure usually of a person or animal that is made from stone, metal, etc.

  • There is a statue of the king in the city square.


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. When did spring begin this year?

2. What does Nowruz mean?

3. How is Holi festival celebrated?

4. Where is Las Fallas celebrated?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

bloom, powder, statue


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. How is the arrival of spring marked in your country?

2. How do you feel about the arrival of spring?

3. What is your favorite season?

4. What are some popular festivals in your country?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.