Detail from a Haft-Seen, a typical Nowruz display
When is Nowruz?
How long until Nowruz?
|This holiday next takes place in 59 Days.|
|Novruz celebrates the Persian New Year, and the beginning of Spring|
Nowruz is a national holiday in Iran. Marking Persian New Year, it takes place on 1st Farvardin, the first month of the Persian calendar. This usually takes place on 21 March in the western calendar.
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.
History of Nowruz
Although known as Persian New Year, Nowruz is an ancient holiday, which can be traced back 5,000 years to the Sumerian and the Babylonian civilisations, long before the time of the Persians. Novruz begins on the spring equinox, when the days and nights are equal length, with days then becoming longer signifying the arrival of warmer weather.
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, Iranians observe 'Chaharshanbe Suri' (The Festival of Fire), which involves jumping over bonfires..
Nowruz will be marked on the exact time and date when the days and nights are equal lengths. One superstition is that whatever you are doing at the time of Nowruz, you will do for the rest of the year. So if you are sleeping at the time of Nowruz, you will be sleepy all year.
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.
Although the names may be spelt slightly differently and the what they represent can vary depending on who you ask, here is a table of the items on a Haft-Seen table:
|Sabzeh||wheat or barley or lentil sprouts, grown in a dish||rebirth|
|Seeb||apple||health and beauty|
|Serkeh||vinegar||age and patience|
|Sumaq||berries||prosperity and colour of sunrise|
In addition to the above, Haft-Seens may also include other 'S' items such as 'Sekkeh' (Coins, a symbol of wealth), 'Sonbol' (Hyacinth) and 'Sabz' (Vegetable). There are also often some common items in Haft-Seen which do not start with 'S', but appear as symbols or a decoration; such as 'Ayyeneh' (Mirror), a symbol for Light. The display may also include Goldfish as the Persian New Year starts with the sun rising in the star sign Pisces (the fish). A holy book such as the Qu'ran is common as are brightly decorated eggs.
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.