People celebrate the New Year all over the world. We clean our houses, put on new clothes, eat special foods, and greet friends and family with warm wishes for a good New Year. Some people begin the New Year on Jan. 1. Others connect the New Year not just to the solar cycle but also to the phases of the moon. And some look forward to the spring equinox, around Mar. 20, when the sun is over the equator, and day and night are the same length of time. The Persian people call that day Nowruz, the New Day of the New Year.
The Persian New Year celebration, Nowruz, started 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) and is still celebrated all over the world. Nowruz means “new day” in Farsi, the official language of Iran. The important themes in these celebrations are reverence for nature, respect for family and community, doing good deeds, and forgiveness.
According to the Shahnameh, the first Nowruz was celebrated by the mythological King Jamshid, who brought harmony and peace to his people through his divine right to rule (farr). In ancient times in Iran, only kings and certain heroes possessed farr, which was thought to protect the people of Iran from evil, and keep the country safe and people happy.
The story states that Jamshid founded human civilization. He created agriculture, textiles, armor and weapons, medicine, perfume, and all that was needed to form an organized civilization. He established social classes, where everyone had a role in society. He tamed demons and even assigned them work to help build up the community.
When Jamshid had built up his community, it was time to celebrate. This day was the first Nowruz. He created a jeweled throne, which was lifted up to heaven by demons. From his throne, he sat smiling in the sky, and all creatures surrounded him with admiration. It was the first day of spring, and this day has remained as the New Year celebration in Iran and many countries with Farsi-speaking people.
Click the links below to register for these virtual events:
At the Table: Nowruz, A Persian New Year Celebration (Thursday, Mar. 11, 2021, 6:30–7:30 PM)
A Persian New Year Celebration (Thursday, Mar. 18, 2021, 6–7 PM)
Grow your own Sabze, a symbol of rebirth
Storyteller Leta Bushyhead tells “Nowruz, the New Day of the New Year”