What Is Holi? Here's What to Know About the Springtime Festival of Colors

Plus, how to celebrate at home this year.

The arrival of spring is always accompanied by bright colors, so it's fitting that Holi—the Hindu springtime celebration—is also known as the Festival of Colors. It's one of India's most colorful festivals (you may have seen photos of people celebrating Holi with colored powder and bright clothing). And while the Hindu festival originated in India, it's now celebrated by Hindu people living all over the world.

If you're not familiar with the celebration, here's what you should know about the holiday.

People celebrating at a colorful Holi Festival
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What Is Holi?

Holi (pronounced how-lee) is a Hindi festival that celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It's a two-day festival that begins on the date of the first full moon in March (called the Holika Dahan). That evening, celebrants typically light a bonfire to represent burning away any bad energy from the past season. Traditionally, an element of prayer is also part of the evening celebration. That night, the full moon rises in the sky—and the next day the celebration really begins.

In India, the second day of Holi is typically a huge, colorful celebration. People gather in the streets and throw colored powder and water in happy celebrations. Each color used has a specific meaning: Blue represents Krishna, a Hindu god typically portrayed with blue skin; red symbolizes marriage and fertility. Yellow is used to celebrate happy or joyful events, and green is used to symbolize new life and new beginnings.

At its core, Holi is a way to celebrate new beginnings—and after another year of the pandemic, it seems like there's never been a more appropriate time to look forward.

When is Holi?

This year, Holi begins at sundown on Thursday, March 17, 2022, and ends at sundown on Friday, March 18, 2022.

How to Celebrate Holi

You can celebrate aspects of Holi even if you're not Hindi—being mindful of observing it in a way that respects the celebration's original meaning and doesn't reinforce stereotypes. Here are a few ways to celebrate this year (socially distanced, of course).

Try Colorful Recipes

The beginning of spring means many colorful fruits and veggies are becoming more available. Celebrate the arrival of the season with recipes that use colorful ingredients and bold flavors. Here are 9 colorful Indian recipes to help you celebrate Holi at home.

Throw Color Powder

While gathering big crowds in the streets isn't advisable during the pandemic, you can still partake in this tradition. Order a pack of color powder ($20 for 10, Amazon) and gather your family in the backyard. Talk about what each color represents before turning on some music and letting the color fly.

Learn More About the Holiday

If your family is new to celebrating Holi, children's books can be a great learning tool. They're a great way to teach children about other cultures, and the simple, easy-to-understand themes can teach parents and kids alike. We recommend We Throw Color on Each Other! ($6, Amazon) this Holi season.

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