Persian New Year – Learn About the Holiday Iranians Won’t Celebrate Until March

The Persian New Year or Nowruz is the official Iranian New Year, which is usually celebrated worldwide by different ethnolinguistic groups in March. This celebration starts at the Spring Equinox, which is the time when the sun crosses the equator. On this day, day and night are usually equal in length.


The specific days are usually between the 19th and 21st of March, but it also depends on astronomical calculations. This year, the celebration was done on 20th March, a little after 7 am Tehran local time, and it was a big celebration as it usually is.

This New Year celebration is usually a part of the Zoroastrianism religion that predates Islam and Christianity in the Millennium or BC. It was founded by Zoroaster, who was also known as Zarathustra and who taught religious teachings and founded Zoroastrianism.

Persian New Year - Learn About the Holiday Iranians Won't Celebrate Until March
Image Source: ITTO

When Was It First Celebrated?

According to the 11th-century Persian poet and astronomer Omar Khayyam, it was the renewal of the world. He dates it back thousands of years ago, although it is not known exactly how far back it goes, and the current estimates are that it could be around 3,000 years ago.

Over the centuries, this rite has expanded and developed further. The celebrations gradually included more religious, cultural, and social influences, which spread along the established trade routes with an estimated 300 million people.


How Do People Prepare For It?

There are some specific traditions that must be fulfilled, but these vary from one country to another. This is because different cultures love to add their own brand of elements to the celebrations’ central theme.

How Is It Celebrated?

The arrival of the month of celebration is usually announced by the street singers known as Haji Firooz, and they wear colorful outfits and play the tambourine. This is usually the start of the celebrations.

Their faces are usually blacked with black shoe polish and some fat and soot as well. This represents a fictional character in the Iranian folklore who is ambiguous.

Other customs involve people chanting in the streets and jumping over bonfires. They are usually saying, “Give me your red color and take my yellow color.”

This symbolizes how the fire takes the yellow of sickness away and gives back the red of warmth and health.

Persian New Year - Learn About the Holiday Iranians Won't Celebrate Until March
Image Source: @MuseumofFineArts, Boston / Twitter

What Food Do They Eat During The Celebrations? 

On the first day of the celebrations, families usually gather in the home of the oldest member of the family. 

The New Year’s traditional meal is usually Sabzi polo Mahi – which is rice that has been mixed with some herbs and then served with some white fish. 

They also eat ash reshteh, which is a thick green soup served with chickpeas, beans, and noodles. And finally, Kuku Sabzi, which is a vegetable frittata.

Persian New Year - Learn About the Holiday Iranians Won't Celebrate Until March
Image Source: NPR

How Long Does The Celebration Last?

The festive celebrations usually go on for 13 days after the New Year has turned. This is either translated as either “getting rid of 13” or “to hit the road.”

The two weeks of celebrations are normally centered on picnicking, meeting relatives, traditional food, and traveling.

How Does The Government View These Celebrations?

After the overthrow in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran initially tried to equate these celebratory rituals as paganism. However, this failed and stamped them out as being deeply embedded in the Iranian culture.

Therefore in Iran, Nowruz is a symbol of resistance normally reflected in the common greeting Nowruz pirooz. This means Nowruz victorious to them. 

Did The Pandemic Of 2020 Affect The Celebrations?

The viral outbreak hit Iran pretty hard, with an official death toll surpassing the one million mark and more than 50,000 deaths reported. Now, the government was pretty strict with people and asked them to stay indoors.

This clearly put a dent in the celebrations, as most people were also restricted from traveling between cities and to put a halt to the spread of the virus. 

Traffic was also banned on most roads, which means that they could not even visit the family members. 

Persian New Year - Learn About the Holiday Iranians Won't Celebrate Until March
Image Source: Fair Fax Family Fun


This is what you need to know about the Persian New Year. So, while the rest of the world celebrate their new year on 1st January 2021, they will wait until March to have their own celebrations. 

This is their tradition, which always attracts lots of tourists to the country.