Iranian New Year, Nowruz

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Nowruz is an ancestral festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. More than 3,000 years old, Nowruz (“new day”) originated in ancient Persia and became a popular celebration in communities influenced by Persian culture, including Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Western China.


The exact beginning of the New Year occurs when the season changes from winter to spring on the vernal equinox, which usually happens on 20 or 21 March each year.

About 300 million people worldwide celebrate Nowruz, with traditions and rituals, ceremonies and cultural events, as well as the enjoyment of a special meal with loved ones. New clothes are worn, visits are made to family and friends, and gifts, especially for children, are exchanged.

The most important activity in the celebration of Nowruz is making the haft-seen table. Haft is the   Persian word for the number seven and seen is the Persian word for the letter S. Literally, the haft-seen table means a “table of seven things that start with the letter S’. Creating the haft-seen table is a family activity that begins by spreading a special family cloth on the table. Next the table is set with the seven S items. Here are some of the items and what they symbolize:

Sumac (crushed spice of berries): For the sunrise and the spice of life

Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree): For love and affection

Serkeh (vinegar): For patience and age

Seeb (apples): For health and beauty

Sir (garlic): For good health

Samanu (wheat pudding): For fertility and the sweetness of life

Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): For rebirth and renewal of nature

The haft-seen table remains in the family home for thirteen days after the beginning of Nowruz. The thirteenth day is called Sizdeh Bedar, which literally means in Persian “getting rid of the thirteenth.” The celebrations that take place on Sizdeh Bedar are just as festive as those on the first day of Nowruz. On this day, families pack a special picnic and go to the park to enjoy food, singing and dancing with other families. Sizdeh Bedar marks the end of the Nowruz celebrations, and the next day children return to school and adults return to their jobs.


The International Day of Nowruz was registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on February 23, 2010.

Yesterday the UN Secretary-General has issued a message: “Every year, we mark Nowruz as a day of new beginnings, when we step into a new year with hope and joy.  We celebrate the renewal of nature and the first day of spring.” “This year, for many, Nowruz comes at a time of sadness and anxiety.  The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is casting a shadow around the world, including the regions that mark this ancient festival.  I send my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my best wishes to all who have been affected.”


Upon the coming of the New Year, Iran Review team like to express its wishes for the New Year and the advent of Nowruz to you. We also wish you all a year full of happiness, health, and peace.


Due to Nowruz holidays, the website will be updated at a longer intervals for a few days.



Source: Harvard resource for educators