Nowruz is an important festival in Iran, Central Asia and beyond. Read on to find out how people celebrate the Persian New Year.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


What is Nowruz?

Nowruz means 'new day' in Persian and is the most important festival of the year in Iran. It is also celebrated in a number of other countries across the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, the Balkans and East Africa, and dates back at least 3,000 years. The holiday has changed over the thousands of years that it has been celebrated, and different regions have preserved or developed different traditions, as well as adding new ones. But wherever it is observed, it celebrates the original message of rebirth and renewal.

When is it celebrated?

Nowruz marks the spring equinox, when night and day are of equal length. This is usually on 20 or 21 March. It's the day when winter changes into spring in the northern hemisphere, and it feels like a new beginning. In Iran it is followed by four days of public holidays, and schools and universities close for two weeks.  

How do people prepare for Nowruz?

People start their preparation for the festivities weeks beforehand. They clean their homes from top to bottom, including carpets, windows and curtains. Everyone in the family helps out. Anything broken is repaired or replaced and the house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year.

People prepare a special table in their homes, where they place small dishes holding seven symbolic foods and spices. The names of these foods all start with the letter 's' in Persian and so the table is called the 'seven s's' (haft-seen). The dishes generally contain wheat or bean sprouts (sabze), vinegar (serke), apples (sib), garlic (sir), a wheat-based pudding called samanu, a red spice called sumac, and senjed, a kind of wild olive which is common in the region. Other symbolic objects can include goldfish, painted eggs, candles and a mirror. The seven s's symbolise life, love, health and prosperity.

How is it celebrated?

Fire forms an important part of the celebrations, and bonfires are built and lit on the streets for four Tuesdays in the weeks before Nowruz. On the last Tuesday, people observe the Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbe Suri), which involves jumping over these fires, which is believed to bring health and good luck in the new year.

Iranians spend the night of Nowruz with their family. The traditional new year dinner is white fish with rice and herbs. Many families give a money gift (called eidi) to the children to mark the new year. People often visit each other's homes and always bring traditional gifts.  

People also celebrate on the street. Traditional poetry, song and dance play a key role in the celebrations, and people fill the streets to watch and take part in the performances. Traditional sports are also popular. They often involve horse-riding or wrestling.  

When does it end?

The festivities end on the thirteenth day after Nowruz, when people traditionally spend the day picnicking outside. The countryside is full of families eating, dancing, singing and enjoying the last day of the holidays.


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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 14:06

"It's the day when winter changes into spring in the northern hemisphere" : Can't wait! :)
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Submitted by danisep on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 17:43

yes, I'm interested in know different cultures and Nowruz sounds interesting to eat their typical foods and see how people celebrate and live their festivities and customs.

Submitted by mariam998 on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 12:46

I really liked this celebrate and how the Iranians people preparing for it before a weeks, actually I thought it’s a Turkish celebrate because the first time I heard about it was in Turkish series. I would like to visit Iran in this celebrate I really would like to join them and do this experience.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 12:03

It’s universal culture to celebrate “rebirth” and “renewal”.

Submitted by parisaach on Sun, 01/09/2019 - 07:44

We celeberate Newruz every year after winter ends. It is an old tradition and has a beautiful long story. In our folklore Nowruz father (Baba Nowruz) is an old man with white beard who travel with Haj Firuz who is a dark face man with red outfit who dance and make people happy. When Spring wants to start, BabaNowruz comes to see Cold Mother (Nane Sarma) . Nane Sarma is his wife and all the months of year are their children. They meet each other once a year and this is the last day of winter. After they meet each other Nane Sarma go her way and Newruz starts. Nowadays people don't care about these stories, there is still some people who make their face dark and wear red outfit , they dance in the streets and people give them money and they are happy, the weather is so nice in these days and streets are crowded some people sale cloths and other things around the streets. and some poeple getting ready to go to a trip or celeberate new year at home.

Submitted by Ahmadreza on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 15:38

Yeah Nowruz used to be the most important festival in Iran but whereas people cant afford to celebrate this day properly nowadays, you cant find the small Haftiseens, short night stay in families, less bonfires and so on but I assure you that Iranian people have a high hospitality towards tourists and passengers.hope to see you soon here
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 09:05

The spring cleaning is what I usually do though I didn't know Nowruz. Perhaps, spring is a perfect season for making people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year. PPPPPP! It celebrates the original message of rebirth and renewal.... like Easter??  (*゚▽゚)/゚・:*【Nowruz】*:・゚\(゚▽゚*)

Submitted by AliMir on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 07:55

Nowruz, is a very important and effective occasion in Iranian’s life. The process begins with spring cleaning, which reminds people of cleaning their hearts, as well. Everyone practices to forgive those who hurt them. At the latest moments lead to New Year, individuals, make their resolutions. They set definite goals to achieve in the next year. As soon as New Year starts, all the families start to visit their relatives. Firstly, grandparents and parents, afterwards, other members of the family hierarchy will host the younger families. Kids are delighted for receiving gifts – mostly money – from adults. Sometimes they plan how to spend it, far before Nowruz begins. All the process, from beginning to the end, lasts about one month and it keeps happening lifelong. As a result, at least, for one month in a year, everyone dismisses life hardships and practice to concentrate on brilliant subjects and make things better.