When is Novruz?
How long until Novruz?
|This holiday is today!|
Dates of Novruz
Novruz in 2019
|See country for details|
|Novruz celebrates the Persian New Year, and the beginning of Spring|
Novruz celebrates the Persian New Year, and the beginning of Spring. Novruz means 'New Day'.
Novruz will be a public holiday for around 187 million people in 11 countries, from Albania to Kazakhstan.
In some countries it may have a different spelling and be observed on slightly different dates. The details of these names and dates for 2019 are shown on the table to the right.
History of Novruz
This is an ancient holiday, which can be traced back 5,000 years to the Sumerian and the Babylonian 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."
Novruz around the world
Norouz is arguably the biggest festival of the year for many Afghans. During its rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban officially banned Norouz.
Festivities include planting flowers, meeting at mosques, attending games of Buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan, and eating foods that represent the coming of spring.
During Nowruz, people visit family members and friends and exchange gifts. Iranian families set up a "haft seen" (meaning "seven s's"), a display which includes seven items beginning with the latter S that each represent spring and new beginnings. For instance, the display will contain 'sabzeh'. This is wheat or barley or lentil sprouts, grown in a dish and represents rebirth.
The public holidays in Iran for Nowruz last for four days, but the festival covers two weeks during which time schools and universities are closed. The 13th day after Nowruz is a public holiday called Sidzeh Bedar (also known as Nature Day) when it is customary to go with friends and family for a picnic, taking the sabzeh from the haft seen with them and releasing it into a nearby stream or river.