This is a guest post by Naomi Coquillon of the Interpretive Programs Office.
In this print by artist Hiroshige Ando (1797â1858), sightseers view cherry blossoms along the Sumida River in Japan.
As spring slowly blossoms in Washington, weâre gearing up for our celebration of all things windy, flowery and new with our Spring Fling Pop-Up Exhibition. Open April 6, 7, 13 and 14, the pop-up invites visitors to experience the living history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival through rare drawings & photographs; learn about the weather, seasons, gardens and botany from books and maps; explore the imaginations of leading writers through literature & poetry; discover springtime cultural traditions from around the worldwide; & feel the beat of the season with music & films that depict these spirited months.
For those who canât join us in person, follow the hashtag #SpringFling to see updates from the exhibit & join the fun by:
- Practicing Hanami (blossom viewing). Widely celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art, âsakuraâ (cherry blossoms) carry layered meanings. For example, because they bloom briefly, the blossoms are often seen as a metaphor for the ephemeral beauty of living. At the same time, the joyful practice of âhanamiâ is an old & ongoing tradition. If there are no cherry blossoms where you are, explore our online exhibition Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship.
- Dancing to the Beat of the Season. âAppalachian Spring,â the Libraryâs Pulitzer Prize-winning music & ballet commission, will be on view in the pop-up exhibit, but you can see a 2016 performance of this classic work performed by the Martha Graham Dance Company in the Libraryâs Coolidge Auditorium here as well.
- Setting the Haft Seen Table. Nowruz, an age-old tradition observed from western China to the Caucasus, Anatolia & beyond, is based on celebrating the rebirth of nature & honoring the arrival of spring as earthâs cycle of life begins anew. Starting in ancient Zoroastrian Persia, the tradition of celebrating Nowruz continues to this day to be the most important annual festival in many regions of Eurasia. Symbols of spring are decorated with rich color in the floral & animal motifs seen in the material culture of these regions. Today in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Central Asia, symbolic foods such as Haft Maiwa (Seven Fruits) & display tables such as the Haft Seen table (seven symbolic items that begin with âSâ in Persian) feature wheat sprouts, fragrant hyacinths or tulips, colored eggs and various other items that signify renewal, fertility, wealth & health for the year ahead. Staff from the Libraryâs Near East Section, part of the African and Middle Eastern Division, will curate a Haft Seen table at the exhibit with these symbolic items:
âSabzehâ (Ø³Ø¨Ø²Ù): wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish, symbolizes rebirth.
âSamanuâ (Ø³Ù ÙÙ): sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizes affluence
âSenjedâ (Ø³ÙØ¬Ø¯): dried Persian olive, symbolizes love
âSeerâ (Ø³ÛØ±): garlic, symbolizes healing from diseases
âSeebâ (Ø³ÛØ¨): apple, symbolizes health & beauty
âSomÄqâ (Ø³Ù Ø§Ù): sumac, symbolizes the color of sunrise
âSerkehâ (Ø³Ø±Ú©Ù): vinegar, symbolizes age & patience
âSekkehâ (Ø³Ú©Ù): coin, symbolizes wealth and prosperity
- Telling a Springtime Story. Weâll invite visitors to the pop-up exhibit to take a close look at an item in our collectionsâincluding this work from Japanese woodblock artist Hokusaiâand then to imagine, What happens next? Tell us what you think might be the next scene in the story by tweeting @librarycongress or using the #SpringFling hashtag.