bird on flower in field

Tuesday, March 19 marks the start of the spring equinox during which time our learning community will celebrate the season with a diverse array of festivals and traditions. Celebrations may be social, cultural or religious. The Bellevue School District seeks to affirm the identities of our students, staff and community as they welcome the season of rebirth, renewal and reflection.


Ramadan and Eid al Fitr

Ramadan, in the Islamic tradition, begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon and marks the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. This year, Ramadan will begin on Monday, March 11, and concludes around Wednesday, April 10.

People of the Muslim faith observe this spiritual month with fasting, prayer and introspection. The obligation to refrain from eating or drinking from dawn to dusk during the time of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the religion of Islam.

In some communities, drums or bells ring in the predawn hour as a reminder to take part in the meal before dawn, suhur. After sunset prayers, fasting is broken with a meal shared among families and friends called iftar. In Muslim-majority countries, work hours are often adjusted during the month of Ramadan to accommodate acts of worship.

The end of Ramadan, one of the two major religious holidays of the Muslim calendar, is the Feast of Fast-breaking, Eid al-Fitr. During this celebration new clothes are worn, special sweets are baked, gifts are exchanged, and families and friends gather to pray and share meals.


Nowruz

In Persian and Iranian communities throughout the world, the arrival of the spring equinox marks the celebration of Nowruz, the New Year. This year, Nowruz will take place on Tuesday, March 19. Its etymology traces to the Persian word ‘now’ meaning new and ‘ruz’ meaning day. Broadly, it is a celebration of new life and new beginnings.

The festival of Nowruz is often credited to the mythical Iranian King Jamshed. As the story is told Jamshed saved the world from a brutal winter destined to cause suffering by raising himself on a jewel-encrusted throne into the heavens where he sat shining like the sun. By doing so, King Jamshed brought temperate weather, where there was no excessive heat or cold, and saved all the creatures of the Earth. This symbolism is widely interpreted to depict rebirth and affirmation of life in harmony with natural surroundings.

During the celebration of Nowruz, families dress in traditional attire, decorate their homes with lights and prepare special foods. Communal festivities include bonfires, feasts, musical performances, poetry readings and traditional sports.


Holi

On March 25, celebrations of the Hindu festival of Holi will take place in communities throughout the world. This joy-filled two-day celebration, also known as the festival of colors, signifies the arrival of spring after a long winter. During the first day of celebration, which takes place on the evening of the Full Moon Day, bonfires are lit and religious rituals are performed, signifying the victory of good over evil. The playing of colors, throwing colored powder or dyed water into the air, carries with it the meaning of new beginnings. Some people believe that the playing of colors comes from the story of the Hindu God, Krishna, who as a child played a game where he spilled colorful pails of water on those around him.

Sweets are shared and families and friends gather to sing songs, dance and share meals to close out the festivities.


Easter Week

Easter, also called Resurrection Sunday, follows the Easter Triduum (Latin for “Three Days”) made up of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. For Christians throughout the world, these celebrations conclude the “Passion of Christ,” a series of events and holidays that begins with Lent and ends with Holy Week. This year, Easter takes place on Sunday, March 31.

Easter is a Christian celebration commemorating the resurrection of Jesus, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial following his crucifixion. The celebrations of Holy Week include Maundy Thursday (the celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper with his 12 Apostles), Good Friday (the observation of the Crucifixion of Christ) and Easter Sunday.

The resurrection of Jesus, as described in the New Testament of the Bible, is the foundation upon which the Christian religions are built. Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover (beginning this year on Monday, April 22), celebrated by followers of Judaism. The Last Supper is considered by many as a Passover feast. The New Testament describes how Jesus identified the matzah (or unleavened bread) he shared with his 12 apostles as his “body” and the cup of wine they drank as his “blood.” These rituals would come to symbolize His sacrifice and became the basis for the Christian ritual of Holy Communion, which remains a fundamental part of Christian religious services.

During Easter celebrations, lamb is often a traditional Easter food. Christians refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” White Easter lilies symbolize the purity of Christ to Christians and are common decorations in homes and churches around the Easter holiday. Their growth from bulbs in the ground to flowers symbolizes the rebirth and hope of Christ’s resurrection.


Passover

In Judaism, Passover is the holiday commemorating the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” or sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites. This year, Passover begins on April 22.

During the celebration of Passover, only unleavened bread, called matzo, may be eaten. The Torah says this is because the Hebrews left Egypt with such haste that there was no time to allow baked bread to rise; thus flat, unleavened bread, matzo, is a reminder of the rapid departure of the Exodus. Passover is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

In the Book of Exodus, God commands Moses to tell the Israelites to make a mark above their doors in order that the Angel of Death pass over them so they will not be touched by the tenth plague, death of the firstborn. After this, Pharaoh orders the Israelites to leave Egypt. This story is recounted at the Passover meal in the form of the Haggadah.
Passover is often celebrated with family and friends with great ceremony, especially on the first night, when a special family meal called the Seder is held. At the Seder, symbolic foods are eaten, and prayers, traditional recitations and songs are performed.


Festival of Ridván

The Festival of Ridván, is a holiday celebrated by those of the Bahá’í faith, commemorating the 12 days when Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet-founder, resided in a garden called Ridván (paradise) and publicly proclaimed his mission as God’s messenger for this age. This year, the Festival of Ridván begins on the evening of April 20.


The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.