Nowruz, also known as Persian New Year, is a celebration of spring and renewal that dates back to ancient times. It is observed by millions of people around the world, especially in countries with Persian cultural influence or heritage. In this blog post, we will explore the history, significance and traditions of International Nowruz Day 2023.
History of Nowruz
Nowruz means “new day” in Persian, and it marks the first day of spring and the beginning of a new year according to the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar. The exact origin of Nowruz is unclear, but some sources trace it back to the Zoroastrian religion, which was founded by Prophet Zoroaster in Iran around 1500 BC.
Zoroastrians believed that Nowruz was the day when Ahura Mazda (the supreme god) created the world and defeated Ahriman (the evil spirit). Other sources attribute Nowruz to King Jamshid, a mythical ruler who saved humanity from a harsh winter by ascending to heaven on a throne adorned with jewels.
Nowruz was celebrated by various empires and dynasties that ruled over Iran and its neighboring regions throughout history, such as the Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids, Samanids, Seljuks, Mongols, Safavids and Qajars.
It was also adopted by other cultures and religions that came into contact with Persia, such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Baha’i. In 2009, UNESCO recognized Nowruz as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Significance of Nowruz
Nowruz is more than just a calendar event; it is a symbol of hope, joy and renewal for many people who celebrate it. It represents a time to honor nature’s rebirth after winter’s death; to appreciate life’s blessings;
to express gratitude for family and friends; to seek forgiveness and reconciliation; to cleanse one’s soul and home; to welcome prosperity and happiness; and to wish peace and harmony for all.
Traditions of Nowruz
There are many customs and rituals associated with Nowruz that vary from region to region. However, some common elements include:
- Haft-sin: This is a traditional table setting that consists of seven items that start with the letter “s” in Persian (sin), each symbolizing an aspect of life or nature. For example: sabzeh (sprouted wheat or barley) for rebirth; samanu (sweet pudding) for affluence; senjed (dried fruit) for love; sir (garlic) for health; sib (apple) for beauty; somaq (sumac spice) for sunrise; serkeh (vinegar) for patience. Some people also add other items such as candles, mirrors, coins, flowers, eggs, fish, books or Quran.
- Chaharshanbe Suri: This is a fire festival that takes place on the last Tuesday night before Nowruz. People light bonfires or jump over them while saying “zardi-ye man az toh sorkhi-ye toh az man” which means “my yellow [illness] is yours [fire], your red [health] is mine”. This ritual symbolizes purification from evil energies.
- Haji Firooz: This is a character who dresses in red clothes with black face paint and plays a tambourine while singing humorous songs on the streets. He represents joyfulness and good luck.
- Amu Norooz: This is another character who accompanies Haji Firooz as his elderly uncle. He wears a long white beard and carries gifts for children. He represents wisdom and generosity.
- Sofreh-e Haft Mewa: This is a fruit salad made with seven dried fruits soaked in water overnight: almond, walnut, pistachio, raisin, apricot, prune and fig. It is served on New Year’s Day as a refreshing treat.
- Sabzi Polo ba Mahi: This is a traditional dish eaten on New Year’s Day consisting of rice cooked with herbs such as parsley, coriander,
dill and fenugreek; and fish fried or baked with spices such as turmeric, saffron and garlic. It symbolizes abundance and fertility.
- Eidi: This is money given by elders to children or younger relatives as a gift on New Year’s Day. It signifies love and respect.
International Nowruz Day 2023 will be celebrated on Monday 21 March 2023 at 10:33 UTC when spring equinox
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