Why Do So Many Holidays Fall in Spring? Look to the Moon

Mar 29, 2024

Throughout the spring, cultures and religions around the world will celebrate some of their most cherished and important holidays. And while their traditions are as diverse as the people observing them, where they fall on the calendar is no accident. All of them follow the cycle of the moon.  

The moon has long played a major role in humans’ observances of the passing of time. Its waxing and waning phases, as well as its movement in the sky, allowed ancient civilizations to mark days, months, and seasons. Modern calendars tend to be solar-based (based on the sun). But many of our holidays still owe their timing to the moon. Here are just some of the notable spring celebrations tied to the lunar calendar:

Lunar New Year (February 10-25): China welcomes the Lunar New Year with two weeks of festivities. The celebration includes fireworks, dragon displays, and special events for those born in one of the twelve animal-influenced Zodiac years. 

Ramadan (March 10-April 8): Muslims begin the ninth month of the Islamic calendar with the first sighting of the spring crescent moon. They observe the 30-day holy month by fasting from sunrise to sunset and praying.

Holi (March 25): People of the Hindu faith celebrate Holi, or the Festival of Colors. It's observed on the last full-moon day of the lunar month. Joyous celebrations to welcome spring include bonfires, sweet treats, and the tossing of plumes of richly-colored powder.    

Easter (March 31): For Western Christians, the holy day marking the resurrection of Christ falls on the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. Eastern Orthodox Christians will wait until May 5 this year. That marks the Sunday after the first full moon following the Jewish observance of Passover. 

Passover (April 22-30): Passover, or Pesach, honors the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. It begins on the 15th day of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish lunar calendar.  

Photo from NASA courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

According to the passage, when does Ramadan begin? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. with the setting of the sun on the longest day of the year
b. with the first sighting of the spring crescent moon
c. with a communal feast that lasts for two days
d. with the planting of new crops for the season
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