Two women setting up plants to welcome Nowruz in their traditional clothing

Nowruz 2021 Festival

Say Hello to the Spring: the Iranian New Year 2021

Dive into the Culture & Traditions of Iran

Streets are alive. Everyone is chasing spring in their own way. Some are buying Nowruz table decoration while others are deep cleaning their surroundings. The trees are blossoming with the signs of spring. Nights are becoming slowly shorter and light is finding a new way to the hearts of the Iranians. The joy is visible through the smiles of the strangers looking at you in the streets. Grandparents are the happiest they have been all year long. They know that with the first day of spring, all of their children and grandchildren will get together and bring liveliness to their houses as a gift.

If you ask an Iranian why they are so happy during the last days of winter and the first days of spring, they will smile at you and say, we celebrate balance: balance of light and dark. We think that’s the start of something new. It’s the start of a new year with spring approaching and the night and day becoming equal. We listen to the sounds of birds and flowers blooming to understand when nature wants to give us another chance to get in tune with mother earth all over again.

During Nowruz, we sit around the Nowruz table of 7 symbols called haft-sin decoration with our family to welcome the Iranian new year and spring equinox. We go back to the way our ancestors used to celebrate this day. Nowruz has been nothing but pure joy and magic for as long as we all remember. Iranian new year has brightened up our lives after dark and cold days of winter every single time. It is for all of us a reminder that the light always finds a way to bring balance back to this land. It’s a reminder for us to trust in nature and all that it brings forth for us every year.

Details You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip

Persian new year coincides with the first day of the spring. Iranians celebrate coming spring by the Nowruz festival in different parts of Iran. Despite the Iranian origins of Nowruz, different countries celebrate it.

  • Kind: traditional Iranian festival
  • Location: All over Iran
  • Date for this year: Friday, March 20 (Nowruz) to April 10th(Sizdah Bedar Festival)

History of Nowruz Through Ancient Stories

There are many tales about when the Nowruz festival first became a celebration. However, no one has been able to trace Nowruz celebration’s origin with certainty. Some believe it is partly rooted in the tradition of ancient Iranian religions such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. One certain thing is the origin of this festival goes back to at least 3000 years ago.

Mithraism spirituality brought forth the celebration of light. All their celebrations were linked to the rise of the sun over darkness. Imagine celebrating the sun every time it rises. You wake up and greet the light that overcomes the darkness. It is a special occasion when the spring brings forth equality of light and dark. You make a feast, wear your best clothes and dive into the rituals of celebrating light. That is the essence of Mithraism and the Nowruz celebrations.

While on the other hand, Zoroastrians believed that Nowruz brought forth not just light over darkness but also righteous acts over evil ones. They have believed that with the nature renewal, we also get another chance at guiding our actions to the direction of truth.

Popular Persian poem book, Shahnameh which goes back to at least one thousand years ago, also refers to the Nowruz festival. According to Shahnameh, a mythological king called Jamshid was the first to bring Persian new year into Persia. It marks the day King Jamshid brought peace and joy back to the land by defeating evil demons on the earth.

While there are many stories about the origin of the Nowruz traditions, they all have something in common. All stories refer to the Nowruz festival as the day that the coming of light is celebrated. People celebrate this traditional Iranian festival mainly in Iran, but it has also spread across the world to central Asia, Caucasus, Northwestern China, the Crimea and groups of Balkans.

People playing music and celebrating on the streets of Rasht during the Nowruz festival

Nowruzkhani is an ancient regional celebration in the North of Iran.

Culture and Ambience of Iranian New Year

Everything is renewed during the Nowruz festival. Everyone deep cleans their houses as it is time to renew the decorations. As you are walking in the streets, you might see many people hanging from the walls of their houses outside trying to clean the windows for the new year. You might also notice that everyone looks much more stylish. Well, it’s an ancient tradition to buy new clothes during Nowruz. The people you’ve met before might look a bit different. It’s probably because they’ve taken their longest shower and sometimes a haircut or a makeover.

It’s as if with the smell of spring coming, Iranians also let go of all the dirt and darkness in their personal and surrounding environment. It’s as if at least once a year for the Persian new year, everyone listens to the mother earth and sweeps all that does not serve them anymore. From old clothes to old beliefs, they let go and renew.

You can smell the spring coming a few weeks before it approaches. The weather starts to get warm and so does the heart of the people in the local communities. They start preparing the town in many ways. The cities in Iran are their cleanest during this time of the year. You see many people joining hands to decorate the town just like Christmas time in many countries. Each region has its own way of making their surrounding special.

One thing that all regions have in common during the Nowruz festival is the Nowruz table. The table consists of an arrangement of seven symbolic items that have names starting with the letter “seen” in the Farsi alphabets. Items could include Seeb (apple), Sabzeh (grass bowl), Sir(garlic), samanu (sweet wheat pudding), Senjed (dried oleaster wild olive fruit), Sekeh (coin), and serekh (Vinegar).

Apple is used as a symbol for creation energy and beauty. Grass bowl is used as rebirth and new beginnings. Sweet wheat pudding is used as a symbol for affluence. Dried oleaster wild olive fruit symbolizes love, while garlic is a symbol of health. Vinegar reminds us of elder wisdom and patience and last but not least, coin brings forth the symbol for the abundance of resources in the upcoming year. It is interesting to mention that even the American White House put a haft seen during Nowruz as a celebration of the spring coming.

However, locals of Iran different cities have added their own traditional elements to the Nowruz festival throughout history. For instance, in the south of Iran, some people head to their launch in the middle of the sea to celebrate newness. The whole families leave the dry land to sing songs and dance together in unity with the flow of water on the first day of spring. They play Neyanboon (A southern native instrument) in the middle of the sea and sing songs to welcome the new year.

While in the north of Iran, the Nowruz festival is celebrated another way. The northern people welcome the Persian new year from a few weeks before with special songs and plays called “Noruz Khani”. Imagine people in their traditional colorful clothes singing rhythmically to welcome the season of light and abundance. The cities are filled with the sounds of nature mixed with songs of ancient Persia spread across the far alleys of the northern villages. That is the region where you can hear spring from every corner. The humid and green nature of the north also attracts birds of many kind sitting on the branches and tagging along locals to sing with them. The harmony of spring whispers through your ear as you walk in the north of Iran during the Nowruz festival. It’s a time to remember for the rest of the year or perhaps a lifetime.

Haft seen decorations set up on a table for Nowruz festival

Every item is a symbol of an element being invited to manifest during the new year.

More Magical Stories from Previous Participants of the Festival

Mohammad

“There was an abundance of candies of many kinds and nuts like no other day in my life. I felt as if I was swimming in the ocean of dreams coming true. Nowruz festival had the same definition as magic for me as a kid. I even liked the fact that once a year, all the kids in my neighborhood and all my friends got together during Chaharshanbesuri festival which was a few days before the Persian new year. We jumped over bonfires together singing songs. I remember for me; the Persian new year meant that I would get money and gifts from the elders. We would visit my aunts, uncles, and grandparents and they would bring out cash from inside a book to give to us as a symbol for the continuous abundance in the new year. I always saved that money and bought something I had dreamt of the whole year.

Nowruz festival was when my wishes found a way to become a reality as a kid. Growing up, I had the sweetest memories of being together with family members and friends in the Iranian new year. I got to understand the worth of community gathering as I grew up and lost many people. It was as if this ancient celebration brought forth a chance for me to get to hear the stories of my grandparents and ancestors before losing them. It was as if the Nowruz festival was created to teach me many lessons about my heritage, which I could not have learned any other way”.

Elie

“I had traveled to Tehran a few times. But there was something special about this time around. There was a mysterious joy filling the city air. I could see the spring on people’s faces. Everyone smiled. There was a Nowruz market everywhere I walked. Little kids rushed for the special Persian new year snacks while their mom was choosing the most beautiful decorations for the Nowrooz table.

I saw an old lady staring at others like me, so I reached out to her to see what she was thinking. She told me that this for her is the most magical time of the year. She said it’s like the old times, my whole family comes to visit me and we sit around a beautiful centerpiece and tell stories to each other from old days to the new beginnings. She stated that it feels most close to being in a community tribe again.

I realized what she was talking about when I went to a family gathering on the day of the Persian new year and on the Sizdah Bedar festival which was the 13thday. It felt as if Iran become my home from that day on. I felt like I was part of a local family that told me intimate stories of how they had become who they are today. It felt like I opened a new door to the memories Tehran city was holding inside its walls. I knew that the spring equinox had shined its light for me to see a more in-depth sense of Iranians culture and traditions.

My identity had a touch of my journey from that day on. I felt one step closer to a borderless world in which I could connect to another culture, knowing that my ancestors had probably shared many spring coming traditions with Persians in the old days.”.

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What Makes this Festival Special and Unique?

  • Getting in touch with Iran festivals by participating in this gathering.
  • Enjoying Nowroozand Persian new year’s mood on the streets and homes of Iran.
  • Tasting delicious Persian foods and especially Nowruz sweets.
  • The opportunity of communication with local communities in a traditional ceremonial family gathering on the Nowruz celebration.

Why Do We Care?

Introducing Essential Cultural Celebrations of Iran

Nowruz festival has had a special role in the history of Iran. It is an essential element for travelers to understand this land’s culture. We want to introduce the different traditions and rituals that have shaped the identity of Iran’s culture since ancient times through Nowruz festival tours.

Creating a Unique Experience for Travelers

Creating an immersive journey through interacting with locals and experiencing the joy of celebrating coming spring with authentic families and small communities for our travelers

Changing Iran’s Global image

Promoting Iran’s attractive festivals and places so the worldwide audiences get to know that Iran is different from the mainstream media portrayal of this country

Why Take a Tour?

  • Location: Although the Nowruz festival is celebrated in many places like hotels, restaurants, or historical sites, celebrating this ceremony among a family can give you the opportunity of getting in touch with locals more. Each region and ethnicity also hold specific rituals that we can show you through our Nowruz festival tour packages.
  • Guide: A local guide can improve travelers’ experience. He/she knows the local culture, language, and history. Furthermore, she/he helps you to experience the Nowruz celebration like a local by explaining all the traditions for you and getting you prepared to participate in the event. Furthermore, the guide can define the reasons and meanings of different parts of the ceremony which is crucial to your understanding of this ancient celebration.
  • Etiquette: Iranian new year is a family celebration. So, travelers need to learn the dress code, the traditions, and the culture of the Iranian people. Some traditions came to Iranians from their ancestors so they respect these traditions. As a responsible traveler, it’s better to learn the traditions to participate in the festival in the most respectful way for the local community. We will have conversations and discussions around Iranian etiquettes beforehand.

FAQ

Can't find your answer? Ask a question

What should I bring to an Iranian new year party?

Your warm presence is enough. However, if you’d like to bring a gift for the host, flowers or sweets can do the trick.

What should I wear to an Iranian new year party?

There is no set dress form for these parties. However, it is usually more suitable to wear formal attire.

What do Iranian and Persian people do at the Nowruz festival?

They usually deep clean their houses before the Iranian new year. People buy all the snacks and Nowruz table items along with new clothes. They set up the Haft Seen decorations. Families sit around the Nowruz table and wait for the new year moment altogether. They sing and dance and play music before the new year. Then, they kiss and hug each other and congratulate the new year to one another right after the Iranian new year arrives. Then, they usually read Hafez poems and interpret it as their following year’s predictions of life. In the following days, they will visit elders in the family and also their friends for the new year.

What countries celebrate the Nowruz festival?

Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, etc.

How old is the Nowruz festival?

There is no certain date for the Nowruz festival’s origin. However, most studied say that it dates back to at least 3000 years ago.

Why is the Nowruz festival important?

It is the most official holiday in Iran. All the people celebrate it across Iran and it is the start of a new year. Also, there are 13 days of holidays at the beginning of the spring with its excellent weather. Therefore, the Nowruz festival is both important to Iranians and also travelers who want to enjoy Iran holiday packages.

What religions celebrate the Nowruz festival?

Iranians of different religions celebrate Nowruz. Also, Nowruz has been rooted in ancient religions such as Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.

What does Nowruz Mubarak mean?

It means happy Nowruz,and it is a wish for a good year full of abundance and success.

What is Nowruz in Islam?

Nowruz festivalhas nothing to do with the Islam religion. It is an ancient Iranian tradition that is not directly linked to any religion.

Why do Kurds celebrate Nowruz?

Nowruz also marks the day that Kaveh (Goodman) defeated Zahak (Tyrant ruler) in Shahnameh which is a famous Iranian poem book. That story is significant to Kurds. They use this legend to remind themselves that they are different, strong people, and the lighting of the fires has since become a symbol of freedom for them.  It is a tradition to jump across a fire at Newroz for Kurds.

Do Turkish people celebrate Nowruz?

Although the Nowruz festival is rooted in Persian culture, it also appears in the Twelve Animal Turkish Calendars, and had been known to the Turks and celebrated by them for a very long time.

How many people celebrate Nowruz?

80 million people celebrate Nowruz only in Iran. Many others celebrate it across the world as well. At the moment of the Iranian new year, there is a celebration and kissing happening across millions of households.

What do you eat on Nowruz?

Persians usually eat Sabzi Polo(Cooked rice with a special herb) and Fish on the first day of Nowruz. They have many delicious sweets and dishes cooked during the two weeks of Nowruz. On the last and 13thday, which is also called Sizdah Bedar, they make a special dish called Ash Reshteh. Ash Reshteh is a vegan soup that contains noodles, beans, and herbs.

How is Nowruz celebrated in Afghanistan?

People in Afghanistan celebrate the Nowruz festival as their New Year. It is widely known as Nauruz. It is also popular as farmer’s day. People buy new clothes for their children on Nowruz. They host parties for their friends and family and they cook a traditional dish named “Samanak”. The girls and women sing songs during the cooking of Samanak. Also, it is interesting to mention that during the Taliban rule (1996–2001), Nauruz was banned and considered an “ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship.

What is the Persian calendar based on?

The Persian calendar is based on Earth rotation cycles around the sun. Every year starts with the spring equinox and lasts 365.25 days.

How long does the Nowruz festival last?

From Chaharshanbe Suri festival up to Sizdah Bedar festival is all considered Nowruz as a whole. However, official holidays in Iran are only four days out of thirteen days.

Is it bad to visit Iran during Nowruz?

No, it is a good time to travel to Iran during Nowruz. However, the cities are a bit crowded due to the holidays. Most Iranians also travel to other cities during this time. Nowruz festival brings forth the opportunity for you to get to know Iranian ancient culture and traditions on a deeper level. You’ll also get to form deeper connections with fellow Iranians that travel during this time.

Are the locals welcoming towards foreign travelers?

Yes, it even makes them happy to see foreign tourists in Iran especially during the holidays.

How is the weather in Iran during the time of the festival?

It is the best season to visit Iran. We offer our top Iran cultural tours during this season.

Can we also have culture tours along with this festival?

Of course. Check out our Iran tours and choose whichever package you’d like to reserve combined with Nowruz festival tour packages.

When is the exact date and time for the Iranian new year in 2020?

Friday, March 20, 2020, 07:19:37 AM | Iranian Calendar year 1399

Nowruz Tour Packages

7 Day

Celebrating the New Beginnings through Ancient Cities of Iran

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7 Day Nowruz Festival Tour

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Celebrating the New Beginnings through Ancient Cities of Iran

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Diving deep into the cultural celebration of Nowruz while exploring the beautiful cities of Iran is a one-time opportunity that has shown up in your life at this time!

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