Aside from celebrating spring and the sun itself, the festival encourages its attendees to relax and spend time in leisure with one another. Additionally, due to its foreign origin, the revellers are given chance to get to know a relatively alien culture with a hooves-on approach.
Insofar, the festival has been taken to quite fondly by the populace of Ponyville.
The festival can trace its roots to the Haysian holidays, celebrated soon after the worldwide holiday of Winter Wrap-Up. Historically, due to a significant cultural and religious difference, this celebration has failed to gain much popularity outside the eastern countries. More recently, however, with the increased interest in integrating the pony culture together, many citizens of various lands are taking a keen liking to the prospect of both gazing how flowers bloom and, of course, feasting on the delicious and colourful leaves.
The origins of the festival come directly from the Haysian earth pony and pegasi beliefs. The well-known and documented, albeit poorly, fact of the existence earth and pegasi magic took a new life in these countries. The eastern denizens believe that the subtle, primal connection to earth and the innate ability to walk and move the clouds is directly connected to the presence of life, called "spirits", in each and every being, both animate and not. The Haysian ponies believe that unlike the naturally, magically-inclined unicorns, the other two species of ponies possess an innate ability to see, hear, converse and eventually coax those spirits into cooperation, hence resulting in such phenomenons as weather control and unexplained fertility of the farmland soil.
The Flower Viewing Festival itself is considered a sign of goodwill on behalf of ponies to thank the good spirits of flowers, trees and grass for their patience and understanding during the cold season of winter, welcoming them back to the warm world in good cheer and song.
Traditionally, the period of flower gazing is conducted soon after the sun reaches its apex in the sky, and is considered a day free of all labour from the attending ponies. This allows for plenty of time to celebrate spring and encourage the vendors to set up in time before the blossoming.
In the east, it was customary for a priestess of the spirits, a Shrine Mare, to gather the villagers of many settlements to the wayward shrine where the celebration was held. Of course, this element became obsolete, and the holiday is held at the town's park. Ponies were and still are welcome to bring forth their own implements. Setting up stalls and shops along the main lane of the shrine was a way of coaxing the spirits out of hiding. Nowadays, it is a sign of cultural acceptance for ponies to bring forth their traditional food and drink, their heirlooms and hooficrafts to share with others - be there a price in bits or none.
During the late afternoon hours, and now nearing the apex of the sun's position in the sky, the Shrine Mare would gather the revellers and lead the festivities into a Flower Mound - a large area of empty land, usually a depression near a hill of sorts. While the stalls and merchandise are left abandoned, the consumables are taken with the partying ponies. The usual atmosphere is much more subdued as the time of blossoming comes close. It returns in full swing as drums and festive, classical music begins playing moments before the flowering.
The time of blooming is usually celebrated in almost absolute silence, save for a few "ooohs" and "aaahs".
When the festivities are nearing to the end, ponies are invited down into the Flower Mound for a feast. This marks the end of the Flower Viewing Festival, thanking the spirits for their benevolence and understanding their appreciation by showering the celebrating ponies with their own gifts as a sign of respect for a smooth and efficient Winter Wrap-Up.
History of Festivals
First Equestrian Flower Viewing Festival
The First festival was held in the town of Ponyville, on the 4th of April. While no pony had truly taken themselves up to set up stalls, the attendance has been nevertheless high. The main activity was a traditional Haysian theatre dance, which proved to be quite enthralling to the audience. In contrast to the usual subdued atmosphere of gazing itself, the blossoming was combined with exquisite pegasus cloud sculpting, done live as the petals spread themselves into the air.
More surprisingly, however, the first instance of the festival was not lucky enough to host Princess Celestia herself. Instead, and much to the surprise of the attending ponies, Princess Luna of Equestria graced the grounds with her presence instead.