Novruz in 2017
|India (Jammu and Kashmir)||Nauroz||Tuesday||21 March|
|Iraq (Kurdistan)||Eid Norooz||Tuesday||21 March|
Novruz celebrates the Persian New Year, and the beginning of Spring. Novruz means 'New Day'.
In some countries it may have a different spelling and be observed on slightly different dates. The details of these names and dates for 2017 are shown on the table to the right.
This is an ancient holiday, which can be traced back 5,000 years to the Sumerians and the Babylonians civilisations. Novruz begins on either 20 March or 21 March, on the spring equinox, when the days and nights are equal length, with days then becoming longer signifying the arrival of warmer weather.
The build up to Novruz begins a month before the festival. Each of the four Tuesdays falling before Novruz is dedicated to a different element. First is Water Tuesday, where water renews nature. Next is Fire Tuesday which honours fire as a method rebirth. Then it is Earth Tuesday marking the revival of the earth. Finally it is Wind Tuesday when the wind opens the buds and marks the arrival of Spring.
Fire worship forms an integral part of the celebrations with fires being lit on the four Tuesdays in the run up to Novruz. On the last Tuesday, everyone has to jump over the fire as an act of purification.
Like a lot of spring festivals, this idea of purification and starting again is key. Indeed, before Novruz, activities based on renewal like spring cleaning, planting trees, make new clothes and painting eggs are popular.
On the day before Novruz, the graves of relatives are visited and tended, then the whole family will gather round the table to enjoy traditional dishes. The table will be decorated by a khoncha, a large silver or copper tray with Samani (wheat) placed in the centre and candles and painted eggs representing the number of family members around it. The feast will consist of at least seven dishes.
On 30 September, 2009, Novruz was included into UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. On 23 February 2010, the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day of Novruz.
According to the UN resolution, Newroz is celebrated "by more than 300 million people 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, the Middle East and other regions."