Nowruz Celebration


A multicultural event, Originated From Iran


By Mohsen Ghanbari


Originating in Iran’s ancient history, Nowruz is celebrated by more than 300 million people worldwide on March 21, the day of the spring Equinox, which marks the sun’s crossing of the Equator and the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Nowruz is as one of the oldest and most cherished festivities celebrated for at least 3,000 years.

Nowruz is a messenger of peace, friendship, benevolence for the humankind and admiration for the nature not only for Iranians, but for several nations and tribes who adorn this ancient festivity and celebrate it. Nowruz is an opportunity for rethinking, restarting and remaking.

Nowruz is the spiritual heritage of humankind and the Iranians will be most delighted if the world nations enjoy this heritage and take advantage of it. Nowruz is the message of peace and friendship by the Iranians for the whole world.

  Great symbol of Iranian endure and a peace seeking culture:

Nowruz is a strong testimony to Iranian rich civilization, national characteristics and history. It proves how a nation with its irreversible determination to endure, and even flourish, through periods of devastation, political chaos, hardship and oppression.

For centuries, Persians have applied the Nowruz spirit to every dark challenge that has come their way. This spirit has made Nowruz far more than just a New Year celebration over the course of history.

Throughout their often stormy history, Persians have endured hard times of civil wars, devastations, and political chaos. They have celebrated the height of human civilization and scientific and military achievements through the spirit of Nowruz.

The festival was so glorious and sacred that even the most ruthless rulers used to grant general amnesty to captives and prisoners. The dignity of Nowruz is captured as Ahura Mazda on its splendid glory says: “On the day of Farvardin, even the infernal-dwellers return to this world to visit their families.”


  When does it begin?

In harmony with rebirth of nature, the Persian New Year Celebration, or Nowruz, always begins on the first day of spring, March 21th of each year. Nowruz ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts - the End and Rebirth.

Nowruz (Norouz) in Persian means "New day". It is the beginning of the year for the peoples of Iran (Greater Iran, including: Afghanistan, Arran (Republic of Azerbaijan) and Central Asian Republics).

It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or about March 21. Tradition takes Nowruz as far back as 15,000 years--before the last ice age.

It is not exactly known when and how the festival of Nowruz emerged. Some historians believe that natural changes in weathers gave rise to the festivities. Some consider it a national festival, while others regard it as a religious ritual.

According to Zoroastrians, the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar calendar) refers to Faravashis, or spirits, which return to the material world during the last 10 days of the year. Thus, they honor the 10-day period in order to appease the spirits of their deceased ancestors. The Iranian tradition of visiting cemeteries on the last Thursday of the year may have originated from this belief.


  Nowruz roots in history and mythology:

King Jamshid is said to be the person who introduced Nowruz celebrations. Some 12 centuries later, in 487 B.C.E., Darius the Great of the Achaemenian dynasty celebrated the Nowruz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 06-30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1400 years. The Persepolis was the place the Achaemenian king received on Nowruz, his peoples from all over the vast empire. The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.

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), there is a detailed account by Xenophonof a Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition.


  How to celebrate this multicultural holiday?

Cleaning the houses and buy new clothes & gifts

Before the Nowruz multicultural holiday, it is a tradition for Persian and other Indo-Iranian groups to clean their houses completely, which can be observed by most households in Iran and it symbolizes the rebirth of nature? and renewal. Moreover, it is also customary for Iranians to buy at least one set of new clothes and some flowers, especially the tulip and hyacinth, to embrace the Persian New Year, and dress in their new clothes to visit families and friends. Therefore, advertisers in the fashion/clothing industry should really make use of the Nowruz multicultural holiday and market themselves to promote the sale

  Haft Sin Table decoration


Not only Iranians need to clean their houses, also they need to decorate their rooms as well. However, the decoration of Haft Sin Table (Nowruz holiday table) is more complicated and meaningful than the normal Christmas decoration.

According to Persian tradition, there are seven things for Iranians symbolizing seven holy immortals (rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty) that are indispensable from the Haft sin table during the Nowruz holiday. These seven things on the Nowruz holiday table include: Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (vinager), Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic).

Other items like coins (wealth), candles (enlightenment/happiness), mirror (cleanness and honesty), goldfish (life), decorated eggs (family), rosewater (magical cleansing power) and so on might appear on the table, indicating different meanings of life and expressing people?s wishes towards the New Year.

  The importance of family reunion during Nowruz:


It is universal that New Year holidays are all about family reunion. During the Nowruz multicultural holidays, it is expected that for Iranians to visit each other, mostly families, friends or even neighbors. Typically, for the first day of Nowruz holiday, families gather around and count down the moment when the spring comes, and then gifts are changed.

After the Persian New Year?s Day, people start to visit their families and friends. Usually the youth visit the elders first, and then the seniors would give their guests some pocket money (traditionally cash, coins or gold coins), and return their visits later. Iranians consider “sweets” as a great sign of the New Year, therefore, kids also receive gifts and sweets from their families, special meals, desserts and fruits are consumed a lot during the Nowruz holiday.

What interesting is that people tend to stay at one family for a fairly short period of time, otherwise they won’t have time to pay all the necessary visits during the holiday time. The hosts need to purchase and prepare enough cookies, candies, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, teas or sherbets in advance to serve their guests. Western supermarkets can also benefits from the Nowruz multicultural holiday by launching multicultural marketing campaigns to promote these above products to Iranian groups.

  Chahārshanbe Suri

(Persian: چهارشنبه ‌سوری‎) is a fire jumping festival, is an Iranian festival celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year)

The celebration usually starts in the evening, with people making bonfires and jumping over them (purificatory practices found also in the Celtic festival of Beltane).

The traditional poetic quote zardi ye man az to, sorkhi ye to az man is also sung, which literally means "my yellow is yours, your red is mine." This means you want the fire to take your pallor, sickness, and problems and replace them with warmth and energy. It is a purification rite, which is traditionally regarded necessary before the arrival of spring at the vernal equinox.

Spring is welcomed by Persians on the first day of Nowruz by gathering with their family members around the serving table.

Like any good holiday, food plays a major role at Nowruz. Having a feast is half the reason for getting together! There are specific foods associated with Nowruz: noodles for untying life’s complications, fresh herbs for rebirth, eggs for fertility, and fish for life.

  Haji Firuz

Pic 7:

Haji 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 covered in soot and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. While ushering in Nowruz, Haji Firuz plays a tambourine and sings “Haji Firuz-e, sal-i-ye ruz-eˮ (It is Haji Firuz time, It happens one day in a year). People gather around him and his troupe of musicians and listen to them play the drum, saz or kamancheh, and dance through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.

  Sizdeh Bedar ~ 13th Day of Norouz

Sizeh Bedar takes place on the 13th day of the Persian New Year and marks the end of the Norouz holiday.  It is customary for Persians to celebrate such day by spending the day outdoors picnicking.

  Nowruz around the world

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

  Ferdowsi the great Iranian epic poet described this auspicious event in Shahnameh:

On Jamshid as the people jewels streamed,

They cried upon him that New Year beamed

On Farvardin Hormuz in this bright New Year

Bodies were freed from pain all hearts from fear

New Year new king the world thus rendered bright

He sat resplendent on the throne in light


  UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage:

Nowruz is now considered a global festival as it was officially recognized and registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in February 2010.


  No-Rooz Greetings:

No-Rooz Mobarak (Happy No-Rooz, Happy New Year);

Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak (Happy New Year to you);

No-Rooz Pirooz (Wishing you a Prosperous New Year);

Sad Saal be in Saal-ha (Wishing you 100 more Happy New Years).


After all No-Rooz is a fun time for all, old and young.