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Nowruz is partly rooted in the tradition of Iranian religions , such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. In Mithraism, festivals had a deep linkage with the Sun's light.

The Iranian festivals such as Mehrgan autumnal equinox , Tirgan , and the eve of Chelle ye Zemestan winter solstice also had an origin in the Sun god Surya. Among other ideas, Zoroastrianism is the first monotheistic religion that emphasizes broad concepts such as the corresponding work of good and evil in the world, and the connection of humans to nature. Zoroastrian practices were dominant for much of the history of ancient Iran.

In Zoroastrianism, the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals are the six Gahambar festivals and Nowruz, which occurs at the spring equinox. According to Mary Boyce , [48] "It seems a reasonable surmise that Nowruz, the holiest of them all, with deep doctrinal significance, was founded by Zoroaster himself"; although there is no clear date of origin.

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This and the Gahambars are the only festivals named in the surviving text of the Avesta. The 10th-century scholar Biruni , in his work Kitab al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sina'at al-Tanjim , provides a description of the calendars of various nations. Besides the Iranian calendar, various festivals of Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Sabians, and other nations are mentioned in the book.

According to him, "It is the belief of the Iranians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion. Although the word Nowruz is not recorded in Achaemenid inscriptions, [53] there is a detailed account by Xenophon of a Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition.

Kings of the different Achaemenid nations would bring gifts to the King of Kings.

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The significance of the ceremony was such that King Cambyses II 's appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the referred annual Achaemenid festival. It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and the Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating a feast related to Nowruz. Purim is celebrated within a few weeks of Nowruz as the date of Purim is based on a lunar calendar , while Nowruz occurs at the spring equinox.

It is possible that the Jews and Iranians of the time may have shared or adopted similar customs for these holidays. There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I 51—78 CE , but these include no details. During the reign of the Parthian dynasty, the spring festival was Mehrgan , a Zoroastrian and Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra.


Extensive records on the celebration of Nowruz appear following the accession of Ardashir I , the founder of the Sasanian Empire — CE. Under the Sassanid emperors, Nowruz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Nowruz, such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanid era and persisted unchanged until modern times. Other celebrations such as the Gahambars and Mehrgan were eventually side-lined or only observed by Zoroastrians. Nowruz became the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period.

Following the demise of the caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Iranian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids , Nowruz became an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the caliphate. The Iranian Buyid ruler 'Adud al-Dawla r.

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Later Turkic and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union , Iran was the only country that officially observed the ceremonies of Nowruz. When the Caucasian and Central Asian countries gained independence from the Soviets, they also declared Nowruz as a national holiday. People start preparing for Nowruz with a major spring cleaning of their homes and by buying new clothes to wear for the New Year, as well the purchase of flowers.

The hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous. Parsis adorn their houses with different auspicious symbols; namely, stars, butterflies, birds and fish; and on the day of Navroz, they dress in their new and best clothes and put on gold and silver kushtis and caps. They decorate the doors and windows with garlands of roses and jasmine, and use colored powders for creating patterns known as rangoli on their steps and thresholds. Fish and floral motifs are a favourite among rangolis and considered highly auspicious. During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to make short visits to the homes of family, friends and neighbours.

Typically, the young people will visit their elders first, and the elders return their visit later. Visitors are offered tea and pastries, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and mixed nuts or other snacks. Many Iranians throw large Nowruz parties in as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family. Typically, before the arrival of Nowruz, family members gather around the Haft-sin table and await the exact moment of the March equinox to celebrate the New Year.

The practice is believed to have been popularized over the past years. It consists of a big silver or copper tray, with a tray of green, sprouting wheat samani in the middle and a dyed egg for each member of the family arranged around it. The table should be with at least seven dishes. Amu Nowruz brings children gifts, much like his counterpart Santa Claus.

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Haji Firuz, a character with his face and hands covered in soot, clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat, is the companion of Amu Nowruz. He dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine. In the traditional songs, he introduces himself as a serf trying to cheer people whom he refers to as his lords. In the folklore of Afghanistan, Kampirak and his retinue pass village by village distributing gathered charities among people.

He is an old bearded man wearing colorful clothes with a long hat and rosary who symbolizes beneficence and the power of nature yielding the forces of winter. The tradition is observed in central provinces, specially Bamyan and Daykundi. The festival of Nowruz is celebrated by many groups of people in the Black Sea basin, the Balkans , the Caucasus , Western Asia , central and southern Asia, and by Iranians worldwide.

The Parliament of Canada , on 30 March , by unanimous consent, passed a bill to add Nowruz to the national calendar of Canada.

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Nowruz is celebrated by Kurdish people in Iraq [7] [90] and Turkey , [91] as well as by the Iranis , Shias and Parsis in the Indian subcontinent and diaspora. Usually, Iranians living in Southern California go to the beaches to celebrate the event where it is permissible to build fires. It is celebrated in Mazar-i-Sharif during the first 40 days of the year, when red tulips grow in the green plains and over the hills surrounding the city.

People from all over the country travel to Mazar-i-Sharif to attend the Nauruz festivals. Buzkashi tournaments are held during the Gul-i-Surkh festival in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and other northern Afghan cities. It is attended by high-ranking government officials such as the Vice-President, Ministers, and Provincial Governors and is the biggest recorded Nawroz gathering, with up to , people from all over Afghanistan attending. In recent years, this activity only happens in Kabul and other major cities where the mayor and other governmental officials attend.

During the first two weeks of the New Year, the citizens of Kabul hold family picnics in Istalif , Charikar and other green places where redbuds grow. During the Taliban regime of — , Nauruz was banned as "an ancient pagan holiday centered on fire worship". Since the extinction during the 19th century, Nowruz is not celebrated by Armenians and is not a public holiday in Armenia.

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However, it is celebrated in Armenia by tens of thousands of Iranian tourists who visit Armenia with relative ease. In , President Serzh Sargsyan sent a letter of congratulations to Kurds living in Armenia and to the Iranian political leadership on the occasion of Nowruz.

In Azerbaijan, Novruz celebrations go on for several days and included festive public dancingfolk music, and sporting competitions.

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In rural areas, crop holidays are also marked. However, tradition goes back to historical East Bengal's link to the Mughal Empire ; the empire celebrated the festival for 19 days with pomp and gaiety. A congregation to seek divine blessing is also arranged. Members of the Nawab family of Dhaka used to celebrate it amid pomp and grounder. In the evening, they used to float thousands of candle lights in nearby ponds and water bodies.

Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam portrayed a vivid sketch of the festival highlighting its various aspects. In his poem, he described it as a platform of exposing a youth's physical and mental beauty to another opposite one for conquering his or her heart. Tradition of Nowruz in Northern India dates back to the Mughal Empire ; the festival was celebrated for 19 days with pomp and gaiety in the realm.