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  • Writer's pictureContinental Interpreting

What is Nowruz / the Persian New Year?

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

On March 20th, over 300 million people welcome the springtime with Persian New Year or Nowruz. Pronounced “No-rooz,” this is one of the oldest holidays in the world dating back to 6th century BCE. While the holiday originated in Persia (modern day Iran), it is also celebrated in other countries like India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and more.

The literal translation new day does not only represent a fresh beginning. Like many holidays around the start of the year (such as the Lunar New Year), welcoming the springtime is at the center of the holiday and the reason why it is celebrated yearly on or around the Spring equinox. Holiday customs for this day are quite like other new year celebrations, such as thoroughly cleaning one’s house, visiting family and friends, and preparing food items with positive symbolic meanings (such as a haft seen table spread).

Watch this video to learn more about this holiday and its customs.

Norooz, Nowruz, Novruz — which one is it?

The word Nowruz has various spellings, partially due to the fact that it is celebrated in different communities around the world. The variety in spellings is mostly due to an inconsistency in the English (spelling in the Roman alphabet) of the Farsi spelling among those who celebrate it. Since the Farsi language has its own writing system, the Romanized spelling varies.

This inconsistency is not only common in languages in Farsi. Languages like Chinese, which have their own writing system are not easily transferable to a Roman alphabet. For those seeking a simple way to write this holiday in English, the United Nations uses the standard Nowruz — however, do not be surprised if you see variations of this on the web or in public.

Whichever spelling you use, it does not change the meaning behind this special holiday. To those of you celebrating this exciting holiday…

Nowruz Mobarak! Happy Nowruz!

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