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Nowruz in Iran

Nowruz in Iran is the first day of the new year and coincides with the 1st of Farvardin. Nowruz celebration has its roots in ancient Iran and is an ancient ceremony with a rich history that is reminiscent of ancient times.

This day in Iran and Afghanistan announces the new year. Nowruz is a public holiday and a cause for celebration in countries such as Tajikistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Iraq, Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Albania, China, and Uzbekistan.

Iranians consider Nowruz as the beginning of the resurrection of nature, the date of growth and birth of plants, and they believe that along with nature, human beings should start a new era with a new spirit and wear new clothes.

The beginning of the Nowruz celebration coincides with the vernal equinox. The time when the sun, in its apparent motion at the beginning of Capricorn, intersects the Earth’s equator and equates day and night. In the solar calendar, the moment of delivery of the year is the first day (Hormoz day or Ormazd day) from the month of Farvardin.

If the beginning of the year is before noon, ie the first half of the day and night, it is the day of Nowruz, and if it is in the afternoon, the next day is considered Nowruz. In the Gregorian calendar, Nowruz occurs mostly on March 21 or 20 and rarely on March 22. 

Sabzeh, one of the haftsin. In preparation for Nowruz 4

Because the solar (Hijri) calendar is used in Iran and Afghanistan, Nowruz is the beginning of the new year. But in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, due to the use of the Gregorian calendar, Nowruz is celebrated as the beginning of spring and is not considered the New Year.

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Nowruz Celebration in Ancient Iran

The origin of Nowruz is not known. In some sources, it is attributed to the Babylonians. Accordingly, the beginning of Nowruz in Iran dates back to 538 BC, when Cyrus the Great invaded Babylon.

Shah Tahmasp I and Humayun. a painting of the Nowruz festival From Chehel Sotoun Palace, Isfahan. by Muhammad Mahdi Karim 4
A painting of Nowruz celebration in Chehelsotun, Isfahan

In some sources, Zoroaster is the founder of this tradition.

Nowruz was also celebrated during the Parthian and Sassanid periods. During the Sassanid period, Nowruz lasted at least six days and was divided into two periods: small Nowruz and large Nowruz. Another name for small Nowruz was popular Nowruz and it lasted for five days, from the 1st to the 5th of Farvardin. The sixth day, which was known as Khordad Day, was called the Great Nowruz or the Special Nowruz.

World Nowruz Day

The UN General Assembly has recorded Nowruz, which has Iranian roots, in its calendar. On October 29, 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered Nowruz as an intangible World Heritage.

On February 23, 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized March 21 as “World Nowruz Day.” In the text approved by the UN General Assembly, Nowruz is described as a holiday with Iranian roots and more than 3,000 years old, which is celebrated by more than 300 million people today.

Nowruz customs in Iran

Chaharshanbe Suri (Fireworks Wednesday)

Chaharshanbe Suri is a celebration full of excitement and joy that is held on the night of the last Wednesday of the year and is a prelude to welcoming the New Year.

Fireworks Wednesday is one of the most passionate preliminaries of Nowruz in all parts of Iran, where fire is the most important element and its name is derived from flames. Today, however, the use of incendiary and explosive materials has made the celebration a risky event.

This celebration does not belong to any religion or ethnicity, and from Muslims to Zoroastrians, Christians, etc., they participate in this celebration and pass it on from generation to generation. This ceremony is celebrated in other countries such as the Republic of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkey as well as by Iranians living abroad.

Jumping on fire in chaharshanbe suri

Housecleaning

Other customs of Nowruz in Iran include house shaking (of course not literally! 🙂 ). The relatives and people who celebrate Nowruz are also committed to this occasion. During this program, around the time of Nowruz, all the house and furniture will be dusted, washed, and cleaned. People in countries like Afghanistan and Tajikistan do the same.

Nowruz table (Haftsin)

Nowruz Table (Haftsin) in Iran

Decorating the Nowruz table (Haftsin) is also a common ritual in the Nowruz ceremony. It can be said that one of the most popular elements of Nowruz is its table, Haftsin. It’s called Haftsin because the name of these elements starts in S (seen) in Farsi.

The elements of this table, which is called the Haftsin (or seven S’s) in Iran, are divided into two types:

Elements that have a symbolic aspect: such as garlic (Seer), vinegar (Serke), wheat sweet pudding (Samano), wheat grown in a dish (Sabzeh), Coin (Sekkeh), Persian Olive (Senjed), apple (Sib), sumac (Somaq).

Elements that have the aspect of food and hospitality of guests: such as all kinds of nuts, traditional or modern sweets.

Visiting in Nowruz

Gathering together and talking is another old Iranian tradition; The younger ones go to see the older ones and receive gifts to increase their daily blessings, and the older ones, in response to the kindness of the younger ones, go to their house and say flowers and hear flowers (it’s a Persian phrase that means greetings) and eat sweets.

Sizdah be dar

On the twelfth day of Farvardin, every year, the Iranians prepare the means of travel to go to the plains and deserts on the thirteenth day and throw away the evils. From ancient times, people believe that on the thirteenth of Farvardin (13 days after Nowruz) they shouldn’t stay at home and go on a picnic near destinations to their hometown.

Sizdah bedar, a nowruz cutom 4

Nowruz is a symbol of victory over good over evil, because of this, the recitation of the Repithon prayer is performed on Nowruz. The reptile overcomes the midday heat and summer months. With the winter giant attacking the earth, the reptile goes underground to keep the groundwater warm, thereby rescuing plants and tree roots from death.

The heat in spring is a symbol of good victory over Bad, for this reason, a special prayer celebration is given to Ripthon during the Nowruz ceremony.

All above shows that Nowruz in Iran is a celebration that emphasizes on important customs of Iranian. Nowruz is not only the start of the Spring but also the start of the new year and that’s why people take it very seriously and religiously! to celebrate it. Also, people around Nowruz are very active and hyper in the prior month (Esfand) and bazaars are a kind of destination that can not be missed!

Therefore, make sure to try Iran in the Esfand (prior month to Nowruz) and feel Iran and Iranian energy. You can travel to Iran by buying a tour from To Iran Tour and get acquainted with this ancient festival and experience sitting around the Haftsin table and see Iran in these days close to spring.


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