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For other uses, see Nowruz (disambiguation).
White house haft seen.jpg
HAFT SEEN table setting at a White House ceremony for Nowruz, 2008
Also called Also spelled Norooz, Nourooz, Nouruz, Norouz, Navrooz, Narooz, Nauruz, Nawroz, Noruz, Nohrooz, Novruz, Nauroz, Navroz, Naw-Rúz, Nowroj, Navroj, Nevruz, Newroz, نەورۆز (Kurdish), Новруз (Ossetian), Navruz, Navrez, Nooruz, Nauryz, Nowrouz, Наврӯз, ნავრუზი (Georgian), નવરોઝ (Parsi Gujarati)
Observed by

 China[3] (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks only)
 Iraqi Kurdistan[5]
 Syria[6][7] [8]
 India[14] (Parsees only)

Significance New year holiday
Celebrations The Haft Seen setting, Chahârshanbe Sûrî, Sizdah Be-dar, etc.
Date March 19, 20, 21 or 22
2015 date Friday 20 March 2015 at 22:45 UTC *
2016 date Sunday 20 March 2016 at 04:30 UTC *
2017 date Monday 20 March 2017 at 10:29 UTC *
2018 date Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 16:15 UTC *
Frequency annual
Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz, Nevruz
Country Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan
Reference 282
Region Asia and the Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 2009 (4th session)

Nowruz (from Persian: نوروز‎‎,[28] literally "[The] New Day") is the name of the Iranian New Year[29] also known as Kurdish and Persian New Year,[30][31] celebrated by mostly Iranian peoples worldwide as the beginning of the new year. It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40] It marks the first day of Farvardin month and spring in Iranian calendar.[41]

Nowruz is the day of the astronomical vernal equinox (or northward equinox), which marks the beginning of the spring in the northern hemisphere and usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and families gather together to observe the rituals.

Although having Persian and religious Zoroastrian origins, Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians.[42]


Nowruz is partly rooted in the religious tradition of Iranian religions such as Zoroastrianism or even older in tradition of Mitraism because in Mitraism festivals had a deep linkage with the sun light. The Persian festivals of Yalda (longest night) and Mehregan (autumnal equinox) and Tiregān (longest day) also had an origination in the Sun god (Surya). Among other ideas, Zoroastrianism is the first monotheistic religion that emphasizes broad concepts such as the corresponding work of good and evil in the world, and the connection of humans to nature. Zoroastrian practices were dominant for much of the history of ancient Persia (modern day Iran & Western Afghanistan). Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself in Balkh (modern-day Afghanistan), although there is no clear date of origin.[43] Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufi Muslims, Bektashis, Ismailis, Alawites,[44] Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith.[45]

The term Nowruz in writing first appeared in historical Persian records in the 2nd century CE, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids (c. 550–330 BCE), where kings from different nations under the Persian Empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz. The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid Empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II's appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz).[46]

Nowruz in contemporary world[edit]

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Iran was the only country that officially observed the ceremonies of Nowruz. When the Central Asian and Caucasus countries gained independence from the Soviets, they also declared Nowruz as a national holiday. The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it as a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.[47][48] During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.[49][50][51][52]

Nowruz festival


The term Nowruz is a Persian compound word and consists of:

Nowruz and the spring equinox[edit]

Main article: March equinox
Illumination of the Earth by the Sun on the day of equinox, (ignoring twilight).

The first day on the Iranian calendar falls on the March equinox, the first day of spring, around 20 March. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres.

In around the 11th century CE major reforms of the Iranian calendars took place and whose principal purpose were to fix the beginning of the calendar year, i.e. Nowrūz, at the vernal equinox. Accordingly, the definition of Nowruz given by the Iranian scientist Ṭūsī was the following: "the first day of the official new year [Nowruz] was always the day on which the sun entered Aries before noon".[53]

History and tradition[edit]

Tradition and mythology[edit]

Bas-relief in Persepolis, Fars province of Iran. A Zoroastrian symbol of Nowruz – on the vernal equinox the powers of the eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and lion (personifying the Sun) are equal.

The celebration has its roots in Ancient Iran. Due to its antiquity, there exist various foundation myths for Nowruz in Iranian mythology. In the Zoroastrian tradition, the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals are the Gahambars and Nowruz, which occurs at the spring equinox. According to Mary Boyce,[54]

Between sunset on the day of the 6th Gahanbar and sunrise of Nowruz, Hamaspathmaedaya (later known, in its extended form, as Frawardinegan) was celebrated. This and the Gahanbar are the only festivals named in the surviving text of the Avesta.

The Shahnameh dates Nowruz as far back to the reign of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature.[55] The mythical Persian King Jamshid (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) perhaps symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. In the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, he is credited with the foundation of Nowruz. In the Shahnama, Jamshid constructed a throne studded with gems. He had demons raise him above the earth into the heavens; there he sat on his throne like the sun shining in the sky. The world's creatures gathered in wonder about him and scattered jewels around him, and called this day the New Day or No/Now-Ruz. This was the first day of the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Persian calendar).[56]

The Persian scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni of the 10th century CE, in his Persian work "Kitab al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sina'at al-Tanjim" provides a description of the calendar of various nations. Besides the Persian calendar, various festivals of Arabs, Jews, Sabians, Greeks and other nations are mentioned in this book. In the section on the Persian calendar (Persian: تقویم پارسیان‎‎), he mentions Nowruz, Sadeh, Tiregan, Mehregan, the six Gahanbar, Parvardegaan, Bahmanja, Isfandarmazh and several other festivals. According to him: It is the belief of the Persians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion.[57] The Persian historian Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī[58] in his work titled Zayn al-Akhbār under the section of the Zoroastrians festivals mentions Nowruz (among other festivals) and specifically points out that Zoroaster highly emphasized the celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan.[59]


Nowruz in Persia
Persepolis all nations staircase. Notice the people from across the Achaemenid Persian Empire bringing gifts. Some scholars have associated the occasion to be either Mehregan or Nowruz.[60]
Shah Tahmasp I and Humayun celebrating Nowvruz festival, 16th century, Isfahan, Persia

Although it is not clear whether proto-Indo-Iranians celebrated a feast as the first day of the calendar, there are indications that both Iranians and Indians may have observed the beginning of both autumn and spring, related to the harvest and the sowing of seeds, respectively, for the celebration of new year.[61]

Boyce and Grenet explain the traditions for seasonal festivals and comment: "It is possible that the splendor of the Babylonian festivities at this season led the Persians to develop their own spring festival into an established new year feast, with the name Navasarda 'New Year' (a name which, though first attested through Middle Persian derivatives, is attributed to the Achaemenian period). Since the communal observations of the ancient Iranians appear in general to have been a seasonal ones, and related to agriculture, it is probable, that they traditionally held festivals in both autumn and spring, to mark the major turning points of the natural year".[61]

We have reasons to believe that the celebration is much older than that date and was surely celebrated by the people and royalty during the Achaemenid times (555–330 BC). It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient Iranian peoples. It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and the Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Nowruz. Although there may be no mention of Nowruz in recorded Achaemenid inscriptions (see picture),[62] there is a detailed account by Xenophon of a Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition.[63]

in 539 BC the Jews came under Persian rule thus exposing both groups to each other's customs. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the story of Purim as told in the Book of Esther is adapted from a Persian novella about the shrewdness of harem queens suggesting that Purim may be a transformation of the Persian New Year.[64] A specific novella is not identified and Encyclopædia Britannica itself notes that "no Jewish texts of this genre from the Persian period are extant, so these new elements can be recognized only inferentially". The Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics notes that the Purim holiday is based on a lunar calendar while Nowruz occurs at the spring equinox (solar calendar). The two holidays are therefore celebrated on different dates but within a few weeks of each other, depending on the year. Both holidays are joyous celebrations. Given their temporal associations, it is possible that the Jews and Persians of the time may have shared or adopted similar customs for these holidays.[65] The story of Purim as told in the Book of Esther has been dated anywhere from 625–465 BC (although the story takes place with the Jews under the rule of the Achaemenid Empire and the Jews had come under Persian rule in 539 BC), while Nowruz is thought to have first been celebrated between 555–330 BC. It remains unclear which holiday was established first.

Nowruz was the holiday of Arsacid/Parthian dynastic Empires who ruled Iran (248 BC-224 CE) and the other areas ruled by the Arsacid dynasties outside Parthia (such as the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia and Iberia). There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I (51–78 CE), but these include no details.[62] Before Sassanids established their power in West Asia around 300 CE, Parthians celebrated Nowruz in Autumn and 1st of Farvardin began at the Autumn Equinox. During Parthian dynasty the Spring Festival was Mehragan, a Zoroastrian and Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra.[66]

Extensive records on the celebration of Nowruz appear following the accession of Ardashir I of Persia, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (224–651 CE). Under the Sassanid Emperors, Nowruz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Nowruz such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanian era and persisted unchanged until modern times.

Nowruz, along with Sadeh (celebrated in mid-winter), survived in society following the introduction of Islam in 650 CE. Other celebrations such Gahanbar and Mehragan were eventually side-lined or were only followed by the Zoroastrians, who carried them. It was adopted as the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period.

In the book Nowruznama ("Book of the New Year", which is attributed to Omar Khayyam,[67] a well known Persian poet and mathematician), a vivid description of the celebration in the courts of the Kings of Persia is provided:[68]

Following the demise of the Caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Persian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Nowruz was elevated to an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the Caliphate. According to the Syrian historian Yaqut al-Hamawi, the Iranian Buyid ruler ʿAżod-od-Dawla (r. 949-83) customarily welcomed Nowruz in a majestic hall, wherein servants had placed gold and silver plates and vases full of fruit and colorful flowers.[69] The King would sit on the royal throne (masnad), and the court astronomer came forward, kissed the ground, and congratulated him on the arrival of the New Year.[69] The king would then summon musicians and singers, and invited his boon companions. They would gather in their assigned places and enjoy a great festive occasion.[69]

Even the Turkic and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz in favor of any other celebration. Thus, Nowruz remained as the main celebration in the Persian lands by both the officials and the people.

Local variations[edit]

The festival of Nowruz is celebrated by many groups of people in the Middle East, Caucasus, Central and South Asia, but particularly by Persians and various other Iranian peoples.[70] It is called Naw-wradz or Nuway-kāl by the Pashtuns, Navroz by Zoroastrians of the subcontinent, Nevruz in Turkic, Uyghurs who live in Northwestern China call it "Noruz", and it is called Sultan Nevruz in Albanian. In Kurdish communities located in parts of western Iran, the holiday is referred to as Newroz, which is a variety of the Persian word Nowruz. The variety Nawroz is also an Eastern Persian word and is also used in the Persian speaking regions of Central Asia.[71] In Pashto language it is pronounced as نوورځ  – "Naw-Wraz" (New Day).

Nowruz around the world[edit]

Kurds celebrating. Fire is the symbol of Nowruz
Iranian Azeris in New York City
Nowruz in Tekeli in 2013
Traditional costume for Nowruz in Kazakhstan

Nowruz is celebrated in Greater Iran, Caucasus, Central Asia and by Iranians worldwide. It is a public holiday in Iran, Iraq,[5] Georgia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan,[72] Turkmenistan,[73] Uzbekistan,[27] and Kyrgyzstan.[74] Also the Canadian parliament by unanimous consent, has passed a bill to add Nowruz to the national calendar of Canada, on March 30, 2009.[75][76]

In Albania Sultan Nevruz is celebrated as a mainly mystical day by the Bektashi sect, and there are special ceremonies in the Tekke led by the clergy and large meals are served there. They celebrate this day as the birthday of Ali. Also all Albanians celebrate a secular version of Nowruz, called Spring Day. Nowruz is also celebrated by Kurdish people in Iraq[5][77] and Turkey[78] as well as by the Parsis in the Indian subcontinent.

Other notable celebrations take place by Iranians around the world, such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Cologne and in United Kingdom, mainly in London.[79] But because Los Angeles is prone to devastating fires, there are very strict fire codes in the city. No fires are allowed even on one's own property. Usually, Iranians living in Southern California go to the beaches to celebrate the event where it is permissible to build fires.[80] On 15 March 2010, The United States House of Representatives passed The Nowruz Resolution (H.Res. 267), by a 384–2 vote,[81] "Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz, ... .".[82]

In Iran, some elements of the Islamic Regime attempted to suppress Nowruz following the Iranian Revolution with very little success. These considered Nowruz a pagan holiday and a distraction from more important things such as Islamic holidays.[83] At the same time, there exist narrations in the Islamic Shia literature about the merits of the day of Nowruz, including the fact that the Day of Ghadir was on that day, and also the recommendation to fast on the day of Nowruz, the latter appearing in the fatwas of major Shia scholars.[84] Nowruz is also a holy day for Alawites,[44] Alevis, and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith.[45] Countries that have Nowruz as a public holiday include the following:

Nowruz in the Zoroastrian faith[edit]

Zoroastrians worldwide celebrate Nowruz as the first day of the New Year. Parsi Zoroastrians of Central Asian origin celebrate it as "Nowroj", "Navroz", or "Navroj" on the fixed day of March 21, while Zoroastrians of Iranian background generally celebrate, like other Iranians, on the actual Spring Equinox date. Because different Zoroastrian communities in India/Pakistan and Iran have evolved slightly different calendar systems, there is some variance. Adherents of the Fasli variant of the Zoroastrian calendar celebrate Nowruz in March, but today, most other Zoroastrians also celebrate on this day.

Other variants of the Zoroastrian calendar celebrate the Nowruz twice: once as Jamshedi Nowruz on March 21 as the start of spring, and a second Nowruz, in July/August (see Variations of the Zoroastrian calendar), as either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. That the second Nowruz is celebrated after the last day of the year, known as Pateti, which comes after a Muktad period of days remembering the dead. Many Parsis are confused by this, and mistakenly celebrate Pateti as if it were Nowruz, when in fact Nowruz is the day after. Some attribute this confusion by some as celebrating the last day of the year (contrary to what might be expected from a term that means "new day"), may be due to the fact that in ancient Persia the day began at sunset, while in later Persian belief the day began at sunrise.

Zoroastrians of Iranian origin generally put up a Haft Sheen table while Muslim Iranians put up Haft Seen table. The difference is because Muslims can not put wine (Sharab) on the table. Zoroastrians of Parsi (South Asian) origin do not traditionally use a Haft Seen. They set up a standard "sesh" tray – generally a silver tray, with a container of rose water, a container with betel nut, raw rice, raw sugar, flowers, a picture of Zarathustra and either a floating wick in a glass filled with water topped with oil for fuel, or an "afargania", a silver urn with a small fire nourished by sandalwood and other fragrant resins.

Nowruz celebration in Iran[edit]

Haft Seen in Toopkhaneh Sq. of Tehran, Nowruz 2013

Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. Preparations for Nowruz begin in the month Esfand (or Espand), the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar.

Hajji Firuz is the traditional herald of Nowruz. He oversees celebrations for the new year perhaps as a remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian fire-keeper.

His face is painted black (black is an ancient Persian symbol of good luck) and wears a red costume. Then he sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and heralds the coming of the New Year.

Spring cleaning and visiting one another[edit]

Further information: Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means 'shaking the house') or 'complete cleaning of the house' is commonly performed before Nowruz. Persians and Kurdish and Azerbaijanis start preparing for the Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their house, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).

In association with the "rebirth of nature", extensive spring cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. This is also extended to personal attire, and it is customary to buy at least one set of new clothes. On the New Year's Day, families dress in their new clothes and start the twelve-day celebrations by visiting the elders of their family, then the rest of their family and finally their friends. On the thirteenth day, families leave their home and picnic outdoor, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony.

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members. Typically, the youth will visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. When in previous year a family member is deceased, the tradition is to visit that family first (among the elders). The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on its list. A typical visit is around 30 minutes, where you often run into other visiting relatives and friends who happen to be paying a visit to the same house at that time. Because of the house visits, you make sure you have a sufficient supply of pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts on hand, as you typically serve your visitors with these items with tea or sherbet. Many Iranians will throw large Nowruz parties in a central location as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family.

Some Nowruz celebrants believe that whatever a person does on Nowruz will affect the rest of the year. So, if a person is warm and kind to their relatives, friends and neighbors on Nowruz, then the new year will be a good one. On the other hand, if there are fights and disagreements, the year will be a bad one. As an extended tradition to the holiday, men may or may not choose to shave their faces until the night of the "New Day" as a sign of removal of old habits and tendencies and the rebirth of their faith and being.

One tradition that may not be very widespread (that is, it may belong to only a few families)[citation needed] is to place something sweet, such as honey or candy, in a safe place outside overnight. On the first morning of the new year, the first person up brings the sweet stuff into the house as another means of attaining a good new year.

Chahārshanbe Suri[edit]

Main article: Chaharshanbe Suri

The night before the last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by Iranians as Chahārshanbe Suri (Persian: چهارشنبه سوری), Sur meaning feast, party or festival in Persian,[93] Kurdish: Çarşema Sor[94][95] چوارشه‌مه‌ سوورێ, Azerbaijani: Od çərşənbəsi (meaning Fire Wednesday) in Persian,[93] the Iranian festival of fire. This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad); the symbolism behind the rituals are all rooted back to Zoroastrianism.

The tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make bonfires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Zardi-ye man az (ane) to, sorkhi-ye to az (ane) man ("az-ane to" means belongs to you); This literally translates to "My yellowness is yours, your redness is mine," with the figurative message "My paleness (pain, sickness) for you (the fire), your strength (health) for me." The fire is believed to burn out all the fear (yellowness) in their subconscious or their spirit, in preparation for new year.

Serving different kinds of pastry and nuts known as Ajil-e Moshkel-Goshā (lit. problem-solving nuts) is the Chahārshanbe Suri way of giving thanks for the previous year's health and happiness, while exchanging any remaining paleness and evil for the warmth and vibrancy of the fire.

According to tradition, the living are visited by the spirit of their ancestors on the last days of the year, and many children wrap themselves in shrouds, symbolically re-enacting the visits. They also run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons and knocking on doors to ask for treats. The ritual is called qashogh-zany (spoon beating) and symbolizes the beating out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year ( See also Trick-or-treating).

There are several other traditions on this night, including: the rituals of Kūze Shekastan, the breaking of earthen jars which symbolically hold one's bad fortune; the ritual of Fal-Gûsh (lit.Divination by ear), or inferring one's future from the conversations of those passing by;[96] and the ritual of Gereh-goshā’ī, making a knot in the corner of a handkerchief or garment and asking the first passerby to unravel it in order to remove ones misfortune.

Haft Sīn[edit]

Main article: Haft-Seen
A Haft sin table in Tehran.

Haft Seen (Persian: هفت سین‎‎), also spelled or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft-Seen table includes seven items starting with the letter 'S' or Seen (س) in the Persian alphabet.

The custom and the traditional practice of Haft-Seen has been changed over the past millennium. The term was initially Haft Chin – Chin (چین) meaning "to place" and Haft (هفت), the number 7. "Haft Chin" was pronounced or Arabized later as "Haft-Seen". The items traditionally were set on a Sofra (table cloth) but now are mostly set on a dinner table. Haft-Sin (the 7 s) The Haft Sīn table or Nowrouz sofra has 2 groups of items. One group is only of symbolic or iconic items and can include : :

The Haft Sīn items are:

  • Sabzehwheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing green environment, happiness and rebirth.
  • Samanu – a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat – symbolizing affluence.
  • Senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing firmness and tolerance.
  • Sīrgarlic – symbolizing health.
  • Sībapples – symbolizing beauty and love.
  • Somaqsumac berries –symbolizing patience.
  • Serkehvinegar – symbolizing development and evolution.

Other symbolic items can be :

  • SekkehCoins – representing wealth
  • Lit candles – enlightenment and sunrise.
  • a Mirror – symbolizing cleanliness and honesty
  • Decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family – fertility
  • A bowl of water with goldfish – life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving. As an essential object of the Nowruz table, this goldfish is also "very ancient and meaningful" and with Zoroastrian connection.[97]
  • Rosewater – purity and cleanness.
  • The national colours – for a patriotic touch
  • A holy book (e.g., the Avesta, Qur'an,or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnameh or the Divan of Hafiz)
  • B – The second groups of items on the table are for offering to guests to eat and may include:
  1. Samanu – a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat – symbolizing affluence
  • Traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi-, Persian sweet , Gotaab,Kaak(cake) and klouche.
  • Aajeel – dried fruits, pistachio, walnuts, pine nuts, berries, and raisins

New Year dishes and desserts[edit]

Sabzi polo
  • Ash-e Reshteh: A noodle soup traditionally served on the first day of Noruz. The noodles are symbolic, as the waves and knots made by the noodles represent the multitude of possibilities of one's life. Untangling the noodles is said to bring good luck and fortune.[98]
  • Sabzi Polo Mahi: A traditional New Year's Day meal of rice with green herbs served with fish. The traditional seasonings for Sabzi Polo are parsley, coriander greens (cilantro), chives, dill herb, and fenugreek greens. The many green herbs in this dish are said to represent the greenness of Spring.
  • Reshteh Polo: rice cooked with noodles which is said to symbolically help one succeed in life.
  • Kookoo sabzi : Herbs and vegetable soufflé, traditionally served for dinner on New Year's. A light and fluffy omelet made with parsley, dill herb, coriander greens (cilantro), spinach, spring onion leaves, and chives, mixed with eggs and walnuts.
  • Nowruz Koje: A traditional New Year's dish of the Kazakh people, which includes water, meat, salt, flour, grain, and milk; symbolizing joy, luck, wisdom, health, wealth, growth, and heavenly protection.
  • Dolme Barg : A traditional dish of Azeri people, cooked just before the new year. It includes vegetables, meat and rice which have been cooked, then rolled in grape leaves, and cooked again. It is considered helpful to achieve one's wishes.
  • Naan Berenji: Cookies made from rice flour.
  • Baqlava: A flaky pastry filled with walnuts, almonds or pistachios, and flavored with rosewater.
  • Samanu: Sprouted wheat pudding
  • Noghl: Candied almonds.

Sizdah Bedar[edit]

Main article: Sizdah Be-dar

The thirteenth day of the new year festival is Sizdah Be-dar (literally meaning "passing the thirteenth day", figuratively meaning "Passing the bad luck of the thirteenth day"). This is a day of festivity in the open, often accompanied by music and dancing, usually at family picnics.

Sizdah bedar celebrations stem from the ancient Persians' belief that the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Hence Nowruz lasts twelve days and the thirteenth day represents the time of chaos when families put order aside and avoid the bad luck associated with the number thirteen by going outdoors and having picnics and parties.

At the end of the celebrations on this day, the sabzeh grown for the Haft Seen (which has symbolically collected all sickness and bad luck) is thrown into running water to exorcise the demons (divs) from the household. It is also customary for young single women to tie the leaves of the sabzeh before discarding it, so expressing a wish to be married before the next year's Sizdah Bedar. Another tradition associated with this day is Dorugh-e Sizdah, literally meaning "the lie of the thirteenth", which is the process of lying to someone and making them believe it (similar to April Fools Day).

Nowruz in the Twelver Shi’a faith and Shia Ismaili faith[edit]

Along with [99] Ismailis,[100] Alawites and Alevis, the Twelver Shi’a also hold the day of Nowruz in high regard.

Here are the events that took place on this amazing day as enumerated by Imam Jafar as Sadiq, Ali’s great grandson, in the summary above, source – Muhammad Bakir Majlisi in his Bihar al-Anwar:

• God made a covenant with the souls before creation • Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion • Adam was created • Abraham destroyed the pagan idols that were being worshipped by his father and others • The Quran was revealed to Muhammad, the night of Layla tul Qadr — Night of Power • Muhammad took Ali on his shoulders to smash 360 idols in Mecca • Muhammad declared Ali as his legitimate successor at Gadhir-e Khumm • Ali was born on Navroz (on the solar calendar, the lunar Muslim calendar had not yet been established until the Hijra, the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina) in the Kaaba that was built by Abraham and Ismael (Ibrahim and Ismail) • Salman Farsi, Al-Fars (Salman the Persian) converted to Islam on Nowruz and used to prepare special sufro (offering of food and sweets) on the day of Nowruz for Muhammad and Ali.

"O you who believe! When you consult the Apostle, then offer something in offering (mehmani, sufro) before your consultation; that is better for you and purer; but if you do not find (the means), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful" – Quran 58.12

The day upon which Nowruz falls has been recommended as a day of fasting for Twelver Shi’a Muslims by Shi’a scholars, including Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, Imam Khomeini[101] and Ali al-Sistani.[102] The day also assumes special significance for Shias as it was on 21 March 656 AD when the first Imam, Ali, assumed the office of Caliphate.

Novruz in Azerbaijan[edit]

Main article: Novruz in Azerbaijan
Novruz on Azerbaijani postage stamp.
Azerbaijani youth celebrating Novruz.

After Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan hosts the largest amount of public holidays related to Nowruz, with a total of 7 days.[86] Usually preparation for Novruz begins a month prior to the festival. Each of forthcoming 4 weeks is devoted to one of the four elements and called accordingly in Azerbaijan. Each Tuesday people celebrate the day of one of the four elements – water, fire, earth and wind.[103] People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shekerbura, pakhlava, shorgoghal and a great variety of national cuisine.[104] Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga). As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended.[105]

Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.[106]

The decoration of the festive table is khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with Samani placed in the centre and candles and dyed eggs by the number of family members around it. The table should be set, at least, with seven dishes.[103]

On the last Tuesday prior to Novruz, according to old traditions children slip around to their neighbours' homes and apartments, knock at their doors, and leave their caps or little basket on the thresholds all the while hiding nearby waiting for candies, pastries and nuts.[103]

Nowruz in Afghanistan[edit]

Main article: Nowruz in Afghanistan

Nowroz is celebrated widely in Afghanistan. Also known as Farmer's Day, the observances usually last two weeks, culminating on the first day of the Afghan New Year, March 21.[16] During the Taliban rule (1996–2001), Nowruz was banned and considered an "ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship".[107] Preparations for Nowroz start several days beforehand, at least after Chaharshanbe Suri, the last Wednesday before the New Year. Among various traditions and customs, the most important ones are as following:

  • Guli Surkh festival (Persian: ميله‌ى گل سرخ‎‎): The Guli Surkh festival which literally means Red Flower Festival (referring to the red Tulip flowers) is the principal festival for Nowroz. It is celebrated in Mazar-e Sharif during the first 40 days of the year when the Tulip flowers grow in the green plains and over the hills surrounding the city. People from all over the country travel to Mazari Sharif to attend the Nawroz festivals. Various activities and customs are performed during the Guli Surkh festival, including the Jahenda Bala event and Buzkashi games.
  • Jahenda Bālā (Persian: جهنده بالا‎‎; old Persian Zoroastrian term Zend or Zand Persian: ژند ‎‎):[108] Jahenda Bala is celebrated on the first day of the New Year (i.e. Nawroz), and is attended by high-ranking government officials such as the Vice-President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors. It is a specific religious ceremony performed in the Blue Mosque of Mazar that is believed (mostly by Sunnite Afghans) to be the site of the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph of Islam. The ceremony is performed by raising a special banner whose color configuration resembles Derafsh Kaviani. This is the biggest recorded Nowroz gathering where up to 200,000 people from all over Afghanistan get together in Mazar central park around blue mosque to celebrate the banner raising (Jahenda Bālā ) ceremony.
  • Buzkashi: Along with other customs and celebrations, normally a Buzkashi tournament is held during the Guli Surkh festival in Mazaris Sharif, Kabul and other northern cities of Afghanistan.
  • Haft Mēwa (Persian: هفت میوه‎‎): In Afghanistan, people prepare Haft Mēwa (literally translates as Seven Fruits) instead of Haft Sin which is common in Iran. Haft Mewa is like a Fruit salad made from 7 different Dried fruits, served in their own syrup. The 7 dried fruits are: Raisin, Senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), Pistachio, Hazelnut, Prune (dry fruit of Apricot), Walnut and whether Almond or another species of Plum fruit.
  • Samanak: It is a special type of sweet dish made from germinated wheat, and is normally cooked or prepared on the eve of Nawroz or a few days before the Nawroz. Women take a special party for it during the night, and cook it from late in the evening till the daylight, singing a special song: Samanak dar Josh o mā Kafcha zanem – Dochtaran* dar Khwāb o mā Dafcha zanem (* Dochter mains 1 daughter 2 young Lady or girl)
  • Special cuisines: People cook special types of dishes for Nowroz, especially on the eve of Nowroz. Normally they cook Sabzi Chalaw, a dish made from rice and spinach, separately. Moreover, the bakeries prepare a special type of cookie, called Kulcha-e Nowrozī, which is only baked for Nowroz. Another dish which is prepared mostly for the Nowroz days is Māhī wa Jelabī (Fried Fish and Jelabi) and it is the most often meal in picnics. In Afghanistan, it is a common custom among the affianced families that the fiancé's family give presents to or prepare special dishes for the fiancée's family on special occasions such as in the two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha), Barā'at and in Nowroz. Hence, the special dish for Nowroz is Māhī wa Jelabī.
  • Sightseeing to Cercis fields: The citizens of Kabul go to Istalif, Charikar or other green places around where the Cercis flowers grow. They go for picnic with their families during the first 2 weeks of New Year.
  • Jashn-e Dehqān: Jashn-e Dehqan means The Festival of Farmers. It is celebrated in the first day of year, in which the farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural productions. In recent years, this activity is being performed only in Kabul and other major cities, in which the mayor and other high governmental personalities participate for watching and observing.
  • Kampirak: Like "Haji Nowruz" in Iran, he is an old bearded man wearing colorful clothes with a long hat and rosary who symbolizes beneficence and the power of nature yielding the forces of winter. He and his retinue pass village by village distributing gathered charities among people and do his shows like reciting poems. The tradition is observed in central provinces specially Bamyan and Daykundi.[109]

Nowruz in Armenia[edit]

Nowruz is not celebrated by Armenians and it is not a public holiday in Armenia. However, it is celebrated in Armenia by tens of thousands of Iranian tourists who visit Armenia with relative ease.[110] The influx of tourists from Iran accelerated since around 2010–11.[111][112] In 2010 alone around 27,600 Iranians spent Nowruz in capital Yerevan.[113] In 2015 President Serzh Sargsyan sent a letter of congratulations to Kurds living in Armenia and to the Iranian political leadership on the occasion of Nowruz.[114]

Nowruz in Georgia[edit]

Nowruz is not celebrated by Georgians (excluding those who live in Iran and Azerbaijan), however since 2010 it is a public holiday in Georgia. It is widely celebrated by the countries large Azerbaijani minority (~7% of the total population)[115] as well as by the Iranians living in Georgia.[115][116] Most Georgian Azerbaijanis live in Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Shida Kartli, and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regions. In addition, there is also a large historical Azerbaijani community in the capital city of Tbilisi, thus marking these the core regions of celebration in Georgia.[115] Every year, large festivities are held notably in the capital Tbilisi.[115] Georgian politicians have attended the festivities in the capital over the years, and have congratulated the Nowruz-observing ethnic groups and nationals in Georgia on the day of Nowruz.[117][118]

Novruz celebration in China[edit]

Traditionally, "Nawriz" or "Nowruz" is celebrated mainly in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Uyghurs, Chinese Tajik, Salar, and Kazakh ethnicities.[119][citation needed][dubious ]

It’s a tradition for people to plant trees, dredge irrigation canals, clean houses and prepare scrumptious food for guests during the festival.[citation needed] A most important element of the festival is Nuoruz Porridge, which is believed to symbolize happiness, success, wisdom, health, wealth and blessings from the god.[citation needed]

Newroz as celebrated by Kurds[edit]

Newroz in Diyarbakır

Although the Kurds celebrate Nowruz, it was not however until 2005 that the Kurdish population of Turkey could celebrate their new year openly.[120] "Thousands of people have been detained in Turkey, as the authorities take action against suspected supporters of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK.[121] The holiday is now official in Turkey after international pressure on the Turkish government to lift culture bans. Turkish government renamed the holiday Nevroz in 1995.[122] In the last years, limitations on expressions of Kurdish national identity, including the usage of Kurdish in the public sphere, have been considerably relaxed.

The word 'Newroz' is Kurdish for 'Nowruz'. The Kurds celebrate this feast between 18th till 21st March. It is one of the few ‘people's celebrations’ that has survived and predates all the major religious festivals. The holiday is considered by Kurds to be the single most important holiday of every year.

With this festival Kurds gather into the fairgrounds mostly outside the cities to welcome spring. Women wear colored dresses and spangled head scarves and young men wave flags of green, yellow and red, the colors of the Kurdish people. They hold this festival by lighting fire and dancing around it.[123]

The main Kurdish greeting that accompanies the festival is Newruz pîroz be! literally translating to "Congratulations on the New Year" or equivalent to Happy Newruz!. Another greeting used is, Bijî Newruz!, simply meaning Long live Newruz!

Newroz is still largely considered as a potent symbol of Kurdish identity in Turkey. Newroz celebrations are usually organised by Kurdish cultural associations and pro-Kurdish political parties. Thus, the Democratic Society Party was a leading force in the organisation of the 2006 Newroz events throughout Turkey. In recent years the Newroz celebration gathers around 1 million participants in Diyarbakır, the biggest city of the Kurdish dominated Southeastern Turkey. As the Kurdish Newroz celebrations in Turkey often are theater for political messages, the events are frequently criticized for being political rallies rather than cultural celebrations. On 21 March 2013, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan called for a ceasefire through a message that was released in Diyarbakır during the Newroz celebrations.[124]

In Syria, the Kurds dress up in their national dress and celebrate the new year.[125] According to Human Rights Watch, the Kurds have had to struggle to celebrate Newroz, and in the past the celebration has led to violent oppression, leading to several deaths and mass arrests.[126] The government has stated that the Newroz celebrations will be tolerated as long as they do not become political demonstrations of the treatment of the Kurds.[127] During the Newroz celebrations in 2008, three Kurds were shot dead by Syrian security forces.[128] [129]

Kurds in the diaspora also celebrate the new year; for example Kurds in Australia celebrate Newroz, not only as the beginning of the new year but also as the Kurdish National Day, and the Kurds in Finland celebrate the new year as a way of demonstrating their support for the Kurdish cause.[130] Also in London, organizers estimated that 25000 people celebrated Newroz during March 2006.[131]

Naw-Rúz in the Bahá'í Faith[edit]

Main article: Bahá'í Naw-Rúz

Naw-Rúz in the Bahá'í Faith is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá'í Faith worldwide and the first day of the Bahá'í calendar occurring on the vernal equinox, around March 21.[132] The Bahá'í calendar is composed of 19 months, each of 19 days,[133] and each of the months is named after an attribute of God; similarly each of the nineteen days in the month also are named after an attribute of God.[133] The first day and the first month were given the attribute of Bahá, an Arabic word meaning splendour or glory, and thus the first day of the year was the day of Bahá in the month of Bahá.[132][134] Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, explained that Naw-Rúz was associated with the Most Great Name of God,[132][134] and was instituted as a festival for those who observed the Nineteen day fast.[135][136]

The day is also used to symbolize the renewal of time in each religious dispensation.[137] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son and successor, explained that significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of spring and the new life it brings.[132] He explained that the equinox is a symbol of the messengers of God and the message that they proclaim is like a spiritual springtime, and that Naw-Rúz is used to commemorate it.[138]

As with all Bahá'í holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Rúz, and Bahá'ís all over the world celebrate it as a festive day, according to local custom.[132] Persian Bahá'ís still observe many of the Iranian customs associated with Nowruz such as the Haft Sîn, but American Bahá'í communities, for example, may have a potluck dinner, along with prayers and readings from Bahá'í scripture.

Nowruz in the Indian subcontinent[edit]

Nowruz as celebrated by Parsis[edit]

In the Fasli/Bastani variant of the Zoroastrian calendar, Navroz is always the day of the vernal equinox (nominally falling on March 21). In the Shahenshahi and Kadmi calendars, which do not account for leap years, the New Year's Day has drifted ahead by over 200 days. These latter two variants of the calendar, which are only followed by the Zoroastrians of Pakistan and India, celebrate the spring equinox as Jamshed-i Nouroz, with New Year's Day then being celebrated in July–August as Pateti "(day) of penitence" (from patet "confession," hence also repentance and penitence).[citation needed] The Parsi New Year is celebrated as Jamshed Navroz across the world by the entire Parsi community. The festival falls on the first day of the first month of the Fasli calendar, followed by the Parsis.[citation needed] This falls in the month of March according to the Gregorian calendar. As the day commences with the advent of spring or Vernal Equinox, Jamshed Navroz is celebrated with immense fun and fervor. All the Zoroastrians observe this festival by performing all the rituals and rites with full devotion and duty. A particular sect of Parsis resides in the western part of India and hence, Jamshed Navroz celebrations can be prominently noticed in these regions. Go through the following lines to know more about celebrating Jamshed Navroz in India.[citation needed]

Commemorated in a grand and elaborate fashion, preparations for Jamshed Navroz begin well in advance. Houses are cleaned to remove all the cobwebs and painted new.[citation needed] They are then adorned with different auspicious symbols, namely, stars, butterflies, birds and fish. New attires are ordered and made especially for the festival. On the day of Jamshed Navroz, people dress in their new and best clothes and put on gold and silver kustis and caps. The doors and windows are beautified with garlands of roses and jasmines. Color powders are used for creating beautiful and attractive patterns, known as rangoli, on the steps and thresholds. These intricate and creative patterns display the sanctity of the festivals. Moreover, fish and floral motifs are a favorite among rangolis and considered highly auspicious.[citation needed]

Guests are welcomed by sprinkling rose water and rice, followed by applying a tilak.[citation needed] Breakfast usually consists of Sev (a vermicelli preparation roasted in ghee and choc-a-bloc with dry fruits) which is served with yogurt and enjoyed by young and old alike. After breakfast, it is time to visit the Agiary or Fire Temple to offer prayers. Special thanksgiving prayers, known as Jashan, are held and sandalwood is offered to the Holy Fire. At the end of this religious ceremony, all Parsis take the privilege to exchange new greetings with one another by saying ‘Sal Mubarak’. Back home, special delicacies are made marking the lunch as an elaborate and delicious affair.[citation needed]

Various Parsi dishes, such as Sali boti (a mutton and potato preparation), chicken farchas, patrani machchi (fish steamed in a leaf), mutton pulao and dal, kid gosh and sasni machchi (a thick white gravy with pomfret) jostle for space on the table.[citation needed] However, the most significant dish that forms an integral part of Jamshed Navroz celebrations is pulav (rice enriched with nuts and saffron). Besides, plain rice and moong dal are a must on this day.[citation needed] Desserts too are not behind in terms of variety, the most important being falooda. It is a sweet milk drink made from vermicelli and flavored with rose essence. Lagan-nu-custard, or caramel custard, is another favorite on this occasion. The entire day is spent by visiting friends and relative and exchanging good wishes and blessings.[citation needed]

Parsi rituals[edit]

The people begin with cleaning their homes as a general custom of Nowruz, known as ‘spring clean’. This is observed days before the festival. The Parsis clean every part of their house, dust furniture and wash carpets. This is practiced to welcome the new spring season with freshness. The Parsis also believe that the soul of the departed family members would visit the homes of their loved ones on Nowruz Eve.

The number seven has been regarded magical and significant for the Zoroastrians. The number seven symbolizes the seven elements of life, namely, fire, earth, water, air, plants, animals and humans. The traditional table setting of Jamshed Navroz includes seven specific items beginning with the letter ‘S’, known as Haft Sin, that signify life, health, wealth, abundance, love, patience and purity. These items are also known to have astrological correlations to planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and Sun and Moon.

The Haft Sin items are sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts representing rebirth), samanu (creamy pudding made from germinated wheat regarded as holy and symbolizes affluence), seeb (apple symbolizing health and beauty), senjid (dried fruit of lotus tree stands for love), sir (garlic regarded as medicinal and represents health), somagh (sumac berries signifying the color of the sun and the victory of good over evil) and serkeh (vinegar representing old age and patience). Apart from these foods, there are other items that are placed on the traditional table.

These items include sonbol (hyacinth plant,a symbol of 'fertility' or continuous chain of human progeny), sekkeh (coins representing wealth), aajeel (dried nuts, berries and raisins), lit candles (enlightenment and happiness), a mirror (cleanness and honesty), decorated eggs (fertility), traditional Iranian pastries like baghlava, toot and naan-nokhodchi, a bowl of water with goldfish (very essential for the Nowruz table), rosewater (magical cleansing powers), national colors (for a patriotic touch) and a holy book (the Avesta, Qur'an, Bible, Torah or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (either the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafiz). At the strike of the clock indicating New Year, the Parsis wear their clean and new dresses and gather around the Nowruz table and Haft Sin. Prayers are offered for health, happiness and prosperity. Next, the family members hug and kiss each other as part of the New Year greetings. The delicacies prepared for the occasion are served and consumed. The oldest member of the family then takes the lead and presents the Eidi (New Year’s gift) to the younger members present.

UN recognition[edit]

The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized March 21 as the International Day of Nowruz, describing it a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and calling on world countries to draw on the holiday's rich history to promote peace and goodwill. During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009 in Abu Dhabi, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.[139] In response to the UN recognition, Iran unveiled a postage stamp. The stamp was made public in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the first International Nowruz Celebrations in Tehran on Saturday, 27 March 2010. President Ahmadinejad also called for joint efforts to further acquaint the world about the meaningful holiday, adding that it could significantly promote global peace and justice: "Observing Norooz will not only promote cultural values, but it will also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect."[140]

The second International Nowruz Celebrations were also held in Tehran in 2011. The 3rd International Nowruz Celebrations were held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on March 25, 2012 with Tajik President and his Iranian, Afghan counterparts in attendance. Turkmenistan is scheduled to host the next international ceremonies to celebrate Nowruz.[141]

Spelling variations in English[edit]

A variety of spelling variations for the word "Norooz" exist in English-language usage. Random House (unabridged) provides the spelling "nowruz".[142] Merriam-Webster (2006) recognizes only the spelling "nauruz" (and a contestant in the final session of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States, Allion Salvador, was disqualified on that basis[143][144][145][146]).


See also[edit]


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