Nowruz – Iranian New Year

What is Nowruz?

March 19, 2024, marks spring equinox on the Iranian Solar Hijri Calendar. This day is celebrated by many people in Central Asia and along the Silk Road as New Year. The name of the holiday literally translates as new day from Persian/Farsi and dates back to pre-Islamic spirituality in the region. People who celebrate this holiday might call it Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Наврӯз, Новруз or even Чыл-Пажи depending on the language.

The proper greeting for the holiday would depend on the language, but Happy Nowruz and Nowruz Mubarak are widely accepted greetings and have been used by the US Department of State to extend seasons' greetings. Happy Spring, everyone!

Many cultures and traditions

Because of the diversity in the region, there are just as many differences in celebration of Nowruz as there are commonalities. Fire plays a huge role in celebrations: in some cultures people jump over bonfires or set off fireworks, while in other cultures people tie knots on ribbons to symbolize their sorrows, sins or negative thoughts and burn those ribbons in a special bonfire.

Many families also assemble a display of 7 symbolic items meant to represent life and renewal and connection between material and immaterial elements in our life. Such display is called Haft-Sin and may include sprouted grains, fruits, garlic, vinegar, but might also incorporate painted eggs and other objects.

Germinated wheat and dried fruit are also used in food preparation. Special dishes for this holiday include polo/palaw/plov (seasoned rice and meat dish with dried fruit), samanu/sumalak (a sweet wheat pudding), countless breads, pastries and desserts.

Colorado connection

So many different ethnicities celebrate Nowruz, from Uyghurs in China to Afghans, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Crimean Tatars, Turkish Kurds and many other peoples. Here in Colorado, the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder became a natural center of annual Nowruz celebrations by the Colorado Tajik community. Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan and a sister-city for Boulder. About 30 years ago, the city of Dushanbe gifted the tea house building to the city of Boulder and it was shipped to Colorado in parts and assembled on the spot. The tea house is an amazing representation of Persian art traditions and of friendship between the two cities. Check out more history and pictures of the Boulder Dushanabe Teahouse, opens a new window

Watch the 2023 Tajik Nowruz celebration at the Dushanbe Teahouse to spot the traditions: the symbolic display, plov preparation, dancing and more.

Learn more about the celebration and the community

Get crafting and cooking

Share stories and songs

Cultural side note

The exact date of the holiday is supposed to fall on March 21, but sometimes these dates vary depending on the year and the way the date is calculated in a specific culture. This year the Farmers' Almanac indicates March 19 as the exact date of this 3,000 year old celebration. However, the same cultures that celebrate Nowruz also follow the Ramadan fasting traditions. For this reason, some communities choose to postpone public celebrations of Nowruz until Ramadan is over.