Welcoming Spring with Eid-Nowruz

I’m Persian, so in my family, we celebrate Eid-Nowruz. Nowruz has been celebrated in Iran for at least 3,000 years, and today it is celebrated all over the world in a variety of locations, including China, India, Iran, Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Egypt. In America, if you’re Iranian, chances are you’re adamant about celebrating Nowruz, too.

The Nowruz celebration combines elements of both New Year’s and Christmas. On the Iranian calendar, the new year starts in the spring, with the start of a fresh season of light. On the night of the spring equinox, we spend time with our nuclear families and gather around a table set with items meant to symbolize our hopes for the new year: Flowers represent spring, coins represent prosperity, sprouts represent rebirth, and goldfish represent life itself. Sometimes, people include lit candles, which symbolize enlightenment, decorated eggs to symbolize fertility, and a mirror, which symbolizes self-reflection and introspection. Traditionally, this symbolic table remains in the home for 13 days after the beginning of Nowruz.

Just like on New Year’s, we celebrate Nowruz by counting down when the clock turns, tipping the balance forward into a new year. At the stroke of the vernal equinox, we exchange well wishes and celebrate the beginning of the new year.

My family’s celebration includes a massive spring-cleaning where we get rid of things we no longer need to make sure we are ready to start the new year fresh. Many people welcome the new year by shopping for new clothes, too.

Nowruz celebrates the boundary between the new year and the old year, and Persians have a tradition of building little fire pits, lighting fires in them, and jumping over the fires. The idea is that when you jump over the flames, you are able to burn off the things you want to leave behind in the old year and keep what you want to carry forward with you into the new year.

Nowruz celebration is about welcoming what’s new and connecting with family and loved ones. It’s traditional for children to get money for Nowruz, which is meant to help them practice saving. It’s also common for the family to prepare a big feast with fish and fresh greens to celebrate spring’s return. We join our close friends and family to greet the new year with compassionate hearts toward ourselves and forgiving hearts toward others. It’s about beginning the new year fresh in the spirit of connection.

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