From ancient times, cultures have understood nature as an incredible life-giving force and sought to honor this through customs and celebrations. While once abundant globally, as society continues to evolve into more modern, tech-driven environments, some of these events have become lost.
Read on for some of our favorite traditions that have survived the test of time and are still currently practiced. We hope to inspire you to visit these cultures and draw inspiration for ways you too can get back to the wild and show Mother Nature your appreciation for all things natural and free in this world.
Shinrin Yoku, translated as forest bathing in English, is a practice the Japanese discovered in the early 1980s and use as a cornerstone health remedy to reduce stress, anger, anxiety, and sleeplessness. The belief is that physically connecting to nature, through means such as a short walk, nature will revitalize and restore your mind, body, and soul.
While this concept is still relatively new to the western world, it's been gaining momentum for its practice of simply getting outside and letting every sight, sound, scent, and sensation wash over oneself for everyday healing.
Relationship with the land remains fundamental to the identity and way of life to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI), otherwise known as the Indigenous people of Australia. Rather than viewing land as something to be owned, a home, or a commodity, ATSI people see the land as owning them. In their culture, land is a mother figure, who's health is important to preserve and protect.
This belief has contributed to an extraordinarily sustainable way of life, as ATSI people have lived in complete harmony with nature for more than forty thousand years.
The key to happiness in Norway is simple: get outside. The word the Norwegians use to describe this love and appreciation of the outdoors is Frilufsliv, which is a fusion of the words free, air, and life, and signifies a fundamental understanding of the healing effects of nature.
The Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv, today used across Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, was coined in 1859 by writer Henrik Ibsen, according to Mother Nature Network (MNN) and can make a big difference in mental health as time spent outdoors has shown a direct correlation to decreased depression.
This concept is so widely believed, and time spent outdoors is of such great importance that Friluftsliv is taught in schools.
You’ve likely heard of the Cherry Blossom festivals in Japan, but have you heard of Baba Marta Day AKA Granny March Day in Bulgaria, which takes place every year on March 1? To celebrate, attendees wear and exchange white and red-colored gifts made of string, typically bracelets, called martenitsas to ward off Baba Marta, who according to legend, is an old woman who controls whether or not spring and good weather come soon. Those adorned with martenitsas are spared her wrath of more winter and remove their martenitsas only once they see a tree in bloom.
The symbolism between the colors chosen and the act of removing the martenistas by tying it to the tree spotted represents a wish for good health and prosperity for the rest of the year.