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

Instructions

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.

Discussion

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Submitted by meknini on Tue, 26/07/2022 - 01:19

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Nowruz is a traditional religious celebration that is practiced in Iran and some other countries in its vicinity. Although it sounds fun and very festive, most other countries in Asia including Malaysia have our own tradition so to introduce something new to this region is inappropriate to the locals. Furthermore, this is not a tradition of ours thus I personally am not interested.

Submitted by Mrs Sadia on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 09:59

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Well, I have never celebrated Newruz but we have a similar kind of occasion called "Pahela Baishakh". It's a festival to welcome the new year of Bangla. We the Bengali people celebrate it by wearing colourful traditional clothes. Women wear sharee and men wear panjabi. People gather at the "Ramna Batmul" a place in Dhaka to celebrate the festival together. Processions are seen in the early morning with various types of colourful placards and festoons. Different kinds of sweet dishes are prepared at home and distributed those to the neighbours. We the Bengali people eat a special meal named "Panta - Elish "on this occasion. Panta is smoked rice with water and elish is fried Hilsha fish. Cultural programs are also held on this occasion."Pahela Baishakh" is a very colourful occasion full of joy. I am requesting the British Council to write an article upon it also.

Hi Mrs Sadia,

Thank you for your suggestion. We will keep it in mind!

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Mon, 25/04/2022 - 12:33

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Would you like to celebrate Nowruz?
of course, I enjoy it when the new year is coming I always clean my home and banish negative thoughts from my mind, and on the first day of the year, I generally invest time in planning my next year's goal. I always thought about how to increase my productivity this year and forget my previous mistakes and live happily ever after.

Submitted by qsmmrz on Fri, 18/03/2022 - 16:23

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Wishing you good health, happiness, and success in the coming year. Happy New Year!

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Sun, 20/06/2021 - 09:56

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I have never celebrated Nowruz.But l think it will be interesting and exciting like Water festival in our country.

Submitted by Azam heydari on Thu, 01/04/2021 - 08:01

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Today is the 12 of Nowrooz holiday and we are going to celebrate tomorrow, the 13, called "sizda bedar". every year we go outdoors with family members and have traditional food such as " Ash reshte" and "kebab". There are some stories about the birth of Nowrooz. The most common ls that a Man named Jamshid found it. There is another story in Shahname (a famous Persian poem book ) that Jamshid and a girl called Rohkshid rescued the Earth from ice age in the Nowrooz day.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 14:06

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"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

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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

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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.