Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated worldwide on April 22. And each country has personalized this celebration by combining values from their unique cultures with global action and, most important, by placing intention into the celebration of our shared home. If you need some inspiration to get your own Earth Day celebration started, here’s what you can learn from your very own neighbors on this green Earth.
1. Educate and learn.
Earth Day is eponymous to the pachamama, a term used by indigenous communities in Bolivia to refer to Mother Earth. Rituals celebrating and protecting the Earth are deeply intertwined into the fabric of everyday life in Bolivia. The nation is so passionate about sustainability and conservation that by sheer will—and a fair share of lobbying—Bolivia convinced the United Nations to officially recognize April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.
While in the Andean country, August 1 is the date that most aboriginal rituals celebrating Mother Earth take place; April 22 is, in turn, a day that Bolivians set aside for reflection on environmental damage caused by humans and shuffling possible solutions to this plight.
Each April 22, the government ministries that manage Bolivia’s natural and environmental resources step into the public sphere, alongside NGOs and green startups, to directly interact with its citizens at a grassroots level. An Earth Day fair is set up in every major city’s main square to teach the citizens new eco-friendly ways to care for the environment as well as listen to their suggestions on how to build a sustainable country together.
Celebrate Bolivia-style by researching organizations where you can contribute time, money or your specific skillset to raise awareness about environmental changes.
2. Step outside and mindfully enjoy nature’s gifts.
Norway ranks at the top of the charts for the happiest countries on Earth for good reason. Residents have unabated access to an enchanting natural scenery that does more than inspire movies like Disney’s Frozen. After all, Norwegians’ deep connection to the environment is, some say, the very secret to their cheerfulness.
So it comes as no surprise that to celebrate this important day, locals enjoy a daylong celebration riddled with festivals and outdoor performances. Mixing the arts with the outdoors is their own recipe for a joyous Earth Day celebration. Families and groups of friends step outside in hordes to enjoy music and laughs under the much-welcome rays of sun that accompany the first spring blossoms after a long and dark winter.
Try your own nature therapy. Gather with friends to take a hike on a new trail or host a picnic in the park. Revel in friendships and sunshine.
Related: 4 Ways to Spend More Time Outside
3. Meditate with intention.
Thailand takes a different approach to Earth Day, focusing on introspection and becoming truly aware of one’s role on this great green Earth. On this day, hundreds of thousands of Buddhist monks and followers of the faith flock to wats and pagodas throughout the country for a spiritual celebration of Earth Day.
According to Buddhist beliefs, world peace can only be achieved through inner peace, which can only be achieved through meditation and deep introspection.
On this special day, Thai temples are bustling with activity under an aura permeated by whiffs of burning incense, sharp strokes of bright orange robes and harmonious chanting, while monks entranced in deep meditation emanate goodwill aimed at building a better world for all.
You don’t need to be in Thailand to embrace the benefits of meditation. Pick a quiet spot in nature and try a simple meditation exercise for beginners.
4. Take back the streets.
Our northern neighbor has no shortage of green areas, with more than 40 percent of its territory covered by luscious forests. Many Canadians have the good fortune to grow up with open access to plenty of space to run around in in their own backyards—except city residents. As if they didn’t have it hard enough, a recent ban on street play has removed children’s laughter from residential streets, tucking them away behind closed doors—and in front of a TV.
This year, the country that brought us Gosling and Bieber has chosen to celebrate Earth Day by launching a new pilot program in Toronto to open up city streets for kids to enjoy an active lifestyle, safely. The big event will feature a friendly street hockey match that will team up neighborhood children, hockey stars and local government officials. The initiative will test a new program that will allow city children to take over certain streets for safe play indefinitely.
Although a street play ban might not be something you have to deal with, there are plenty of people who don’t have access to big green areas to play and gather in. Look for organizations in your area that are hosting free events for inner city residents. Consider volunteering your team or help spread the word.
5. Spring clean.
Deep in Siberia, Earth Day celebrations are about renewal and have been from time immemorial. Today, residents of the region of Khakassia engage in the perfect blend of traditional rituals and modern ideas on conservation.
Every Earth Day celebration starts with the Mother Earth blessing ceremony, in which locals follow a centuries-old practice of tying a colorful rainbow of ribbons around a sacred birch tree. After cleansing their homes from evil spirits by burning sage, residents gather for a modern twist on tradition: a tree planting ceremony. Year after year, a new lane of trees is planted, and slowly a forest has begun to emerge—one that will be enjoyed by future generations, centuries from today.
Plant a tree with your family or friends. Start your own tradition.
There is no doubt that this special day is a momentous occasion to enjoy our planet and mindfully care for it. If taking part in a big event is not up your alley, how about trying a more quiet option to honor our Mother Earth? Go out for a hike and enjoy a good dose of ecotherapy. Carry out your normal lifestyle but carpool or ride your bike instead. Plant a tree with a loved one. Pitch in at a neighborhood cleanup action. Or donate some change to a good environmental cause.
Want to take it up a notch? Adopt any of these for longer than a day, and begin to make a difference all year long.