Balkan Festival

Sundays at Landmark

Sundays at Landmark is a series of cultural and art events that are designed to entertain, enrich and educate an audience. The 2020/2021 season of programs will be a mix of virtual and in-person (reservation required) events. Most programs begin at 1 pm and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Virtual events will remain on for one month, unless otherwise noted.
In-person events require reservations ( or 651-292-3237).

Current Events


March 21 – April 21: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Iran


April 11-May 11: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Laos


May 2: Spring Traditions from Around the World

May 9: Virtual Mother’s Day Concert

SPCS Mother’s Day Concert

Welcome to the annual Saint Paul Civic Symphony Mother’s Day Concert! Thank you to our sponsors Ramsey CountyEcolab, the Xcel Energy Foundation, and Travelers. We hope this virtual program will engage you, as well as entertain and enlighten you! Additionally, a big thank you to the Saint Paul Civic Symphony, led by Music Director Jeffrey Stirling . Please take a moment to complete a brief survey at the bottom of this web page and tell us your opinion(s) of this virtual event. Your responses help guide us in creating enriching community programs for all. Thank you.

1)  From SPCS Mothers Day 2009: 3 excerpts from Christopher Rouse’s Concerto for Percussion & Orchestra. 

Percussion soloist = Ben Runkel

Every season the Saint Paul Civic Symphony, in collaboration with the Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, features an up and coming soloist in concert with the SPCS.

.The third excerpt even opens with some nice still photos of Landmark & St. Paul: 

2)  From SPCS Oct. 2013: Brass Fanfare from “La Peri” by Paul Dukas

3)  Also from Oct. 2013: a full orchestra performance of Sibelius Symphony No. 7 (Note: runs about 21 mins.)

A little extra..

Thank you Twin Cities Trumpet Ensemble for allowing us to share these videos featuring SPCS member, Franklin E. Hotzel. More information about the ensemble can be found at

Spring Traditions Around the World

Photo: Dreamstime

Around the world, people celebrate the end of the dreary winter weather as they usher in the Spring season with unique festivals and traditions. Some date back thousands of years, while others are fairly new. Many are based in religious tradition and beliefs, and others celebrate the return of earth’s showy beauty. Almost all traditions somehow symbolize the concept of “rebirth” or “renewed life” that Spring brings.


Photo:  W. Kubina / Dom Ludowy

In some parts of Poland, one may still encounter yet another tradition, known as gaik or maik (meaning “a copse”). Gaik is a pine twig or branch decorated with ribbons, colourful beads, flowers or little trinkets. Such a branch is then carried in a procession around a village, in order to celebrate the beginning of spring. This custom was a part of Slavic spring celebrations, appearing during various festivals and rituals throughout the spring season in Poland and in many other Slavic countries. Gaik usually appears as a small tree or a branch (most often a local type of a conifer tree, or a birch tree) decorated with colorful ribbons and other adornments, depending on the occasion (for example trinkets, flowers and bells, or colorful pisanki made on emptied eggshells hanging from the branches).

Depending on the region, gaik was appearing on many different occasions. It was very often carried in a procession for the celebrations of the spring equinox. The appearance of a gaik symbolized the first arrival or birth of the spring. Gaik was carried into the village, announcing the new season and the rebirth of the nature. Source:

Video Source:

Bulgaria (and many other eastern European cultures)

Baba Marta Day
Photo:  K&V Bulgarian Market

Who is Baba Marta? (“Granny March”) is the name of a mythical figure who brings with her the end of the cold winter and the beginning of the spring. Her holiday of the same name is celebrated in on March 1. Baba Marta folklore is also present in Serbia and Romania, as well. Baba Marta is said to be a feisty old woman who always seems to be grudging at her two brothers, January and February. The sun only comes out when she smiles. In the folklore surrounding Baba Marta there are different versions of the tale. One says that on that day she does her pre-spring cleaning and shakes her mattress for the last time before the next winter – all the feathers that come out of it pour on Earth like snow – the last snow of the year.

Photo: K & V Bulgarian Marketplace

Baba Marta Day is a centuries-old tradition and on this day, people exchange martenitsi. The tradition of giving friends red-and-white interwoven strings brings health and happiness during Spring.

What is a martenitsa?

Photo: Petko Yotov

A typical martenitsa (more than one is martenitsi) consists of two small wool dolls, Pizho and Penda.  Pizho, the male doll, is usually adorned in predominantly white yarn, thread, or fabric; Penda, the female doll, wears a traditional red skirt of the same materials.

The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring and of new life. The martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature, the white symbolizing the purity of the melting white snow and the red setting of the sun, which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses, showing nature’s balance, and the need for balance in human life.

Photo: Petko Yotov

Tradition dictates that martenitsi are always given as gifts to give to loved ones, friends, and family. Beginning on the first of March, one or more are worn pinned to clothing, or around the wrist or neck, until the wearer sees a stork or swallow returning from migration, or a blossoming tree, and then removes the martenitsa. The ritual of finally taking off the martenitsa is different in different parts of Bulgaria. Some people tie the martenitsa on a branch of a fruit tree, thus giving the tree health and luck. Others place it under a rock or stone, giving good health to the insects and earth.

Sources: Wikipedia; K&V Bulgarian Market


You can make your own martinitsa bracelet for someone you care about! Gather your supplies and watch the video below.


  • 1 thin red yarn; cut to 6” long
  • 1 thin white yarn; cut to 6” long
  • Scissors
  • 1 Bead
  • Any color sewing thread cut to 3” (you will use this to string your bead onto your martinitsa, then discard)

Video Source: Art of Clay



In a celebration of the triumph of good over bad, the colorful Holi tradition takes place in late in March. The festival originated as Hindu tradition, but is now a cultural experience that has radiated to other parts of the world.

Photo: engage.cmap

To usher in the fruitful spring season, people participate in bonfires and parties the night before Holi. The next day, the masses gather on the streets for a giant color fight, throwing dyed powder onto each other. The carefree revelry offers a chance to connect with other human beings and let go of any past hardships.

The Story Behind the Tradition

Water guns, colored faces and endless dancing and singing; these are just few of the things that make Holi one of the most awaited festivals of the year in India. Holi celebrates leaving behind the cold wintry days and ushering in the bounteous days of spring. In parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, Holi is associated with eternal love of Krishna and Radha. In Mathura, the festival is celebrated over a period of five days. Lath-maar Holi is a popular way of celebrating this festival. It is believed, that little Krishna would chase Radha to smear her beloved’s face in vibrant colors, and also playfully splash some water over his gopis (daughters of cowherds)

who would chase him and his friends away with lathis (sticks). In south, Holi is an occasion to pay respect to the God of love, Kaamdev. Source:

Photo: The

The Netherlands

Bloemencorso Bollenstreek
Photo: tulipfestivalamsterdam

Known for an abundance of flowers, South Holland hosts a 12-hour-long parade that travels from the city of  Noordwijk to the city of Haarlem. One of the region’s most anticipated spring events, the Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek is the only parade constructed of bulb flowers like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils.

 Elaborate floats wander through the streets in a route that stretches more than 24 miles. Hundreds of thousands of people line up to watch the decorative and fragrant structures every April.

Lanark, Scotland

Whuppity Scoorie
Photo: Bellevue University Library

Scotland’s Whuppity Scoorie tradition is so old, that no one can really pinpoint how or why it started. In the village of Lanark, Scotland, children run around with balls made of crumpled paper swinging around their heads near dusk on the first of March. They run three laps around the town’s bell, known as the Kirk, until it rings at 6 p.m. signaling the end of six months of silence during the desolate winter days.  Town officials believe it originated to rid of evil spirits before the spring season started. The “Whuppity Scoorie” name was coined in the 19th century and it remains a popular tradition to this day.


Hanami (“Flower Viewing”)
Photo: Samovar

Hanami is a long-standing Japanese tradition of welcoming spring. Also known as the “cherry blossom festival,” this annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature. People gather under blooming cherry blossoms for food, drink, songs, companionship and the beauty of sakura (cherry blossoms). Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall. 

Celebrations begin in the day and often last into the night. The festival dates vary by location and year, as the trees bloom at different times with weather and climate variations, but they are typically in late March through May and last a few days to a few weeks.

Hanami  literally means “to view the flowers” and almost always refer to those of the cherry or, less frequently, plum trees. People keep a watchful eye on the bloom forecasts, hoping to plan Hanami at peak times and will welcome spring by hosting parties and picnics under the trees, a tradition that has taken place for centuries. Source: Samovar


This project is great for adults and older children who are able to use a cold glue gun.


  • Light pink and darker pink tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Cool glue gun
  • Small tree branches (from your yard or found on a walk!)


More Activities –

For more Spring Tradition fun, print off these activity pages: coloring pages / painted people craft

Thank you for “attending” Spring Traditions from Around the World. We hope you enjoyed this celebration of the season.

Past Events


January 24-February 24: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Serbia


February 7 – March 7: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Ghana

February 21 – March 21: Balkan Fest!


March 7 – April 7: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Spain

March 14-April 14: Day of Irish Dance

Sundays at Landmark series is supported by Ecolab, the Xcel Energy Foundation, and Ramsey County. Please give financial support for Landmark Center’s programs and activities!