What is Nowruz? How and when is the festival celebrated by Iranians?
As March draws to a close in the northern hemisphere and heralds the first day of spring during the vernal equinox, it also marks the beginning of the new year for 300 million people around the world.
Nowruz has been celebrated in the Persian diaspora for more than 3,000 years.
The day is always celebrated during the vernal equinox and will be observed in 2023 on Sunday March 20th.
Here’s what you need to know about the festival.
What is Nowruz?
Nowruz means “new day” and is a holiday marking the arrival of spring and the first day of the year in Iran.
It comes from Zoroastrianism, a religion practiced in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), which saw the arrival of spring as a victory over darkness.
The holiday was retained after the Islamic conquest of Persia in the seventh century and the decline in the popularity of Zoroastrianism.
Why is Nowruz celebrated?
According to the United Nations, Nowruz is a festival of ancestors, marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature.
It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within the family, as well as reconciliation and neighborhood.
It contributes to cultural diversity and friendship between peoples and different communities.
Celebrating Nowruz means affirming life in harmony with nature, being aware of the inseparable link between constructive work and natural cycles of renewal, and adopting a caring and respectful attitude towards natural life sources.
Where and how is Nowruz celebrated?
Nowruz has been celebrated in the Balkans, Black Sea Basin, Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East and throughout Iran for more than 3,000 years.
New Year’s is often a time when people wish for prosperity and new beginnings.
On the last Wednesday before Nowruz, many celebrate Charshanbe Suri, a night when people jump over fires or bang on doors with spoons to ward off bad luck.
People also visit cemeteries and make offerings for the dead, which some believe visit before the Spring Rite begins.
In the run-up to the holiday, people perform ritual dances and fill vessels in their homes with water associated with health to ward off bad luck.
An important tradition practiced during this period is gathering around “the table,” decorated with objects symbolizing purity, brightness, sustenance, and wealth, to enjoy a special meal with loved ones.
Households set up tables covered with seven symbolic objects called detention-seen.
Haft means “seven” and “seen” is “s” in Farsi, and all elements begin with the letter.
These include seed sprouts (usually wheat, oats, and seeds symbolizing rebirth), senjed (aka silverberry or Persian olive, said to ignite love), garlic (protection), apple (fertility), sumac (love), vinegar ( patience) and Samanu, a pudding made from sprouted wheat (abundance).
Since the Spring Festival is about fertility and new life, it is fitting that many revelers celebrate with eggs and seeds. The table can also contain a Koran, mirror and poems.
‘Sizdah bi Dar’, the 13th day of Noruz or the Iranian New Year. At the end of the children’s Noruz holiday, Iranians often spend the day outdoors to welcome spring.
Especially for children, gifts are exchanged with items made by artisans.
There are also street performances of music and dance, public rituals involving water and fire, traditional sports and handicraft making.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/nowruz-festival-iranian-world-spring-new-year-persian-b1067409.html What is Nowruz? How and when is the festival celebrated by Iranians?