What are some facts about the Iranian new year?


Quick Answer

The Iranian New Year's Day, known as Nowruz, takes place on the first day of spring on the Iranian calendar. The New Year's festival traditionally lasts five days, with many schools and universities going on vacation for up to 14 days.

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Full Answer

Nowruz traditions include the Haft Sin, a display of seven symbolic items that start with the Persian letter "sin," and the festival of fire, which involves leaping over small bonfires set in the street while singing traditional songs to give the celebrant health and bravery for the upcoming year.

Several other ethnic groups located in or around Central Asia, such as the Afghans, the Kurds and the Azerbaijanis, also celebrate Nowruz. Azerbaijan sets aside seven days for Nowruz as public holidays, more than any other country. Twelver Shiite Muslims, who make up a majority of Iran's population, celebrate Nowruz as a holy day of fasting. Outside of Iran, the Alevite and Alawite sects of Shi'a Islam also celebrate the holiday, along with members of the Baha'i faith.

Although Nowruz has its origins in the Zoroastrian religion and has religious significance to several faiths, Iranians observe it as a secular holiday, with individuals celebrating the holiday as a cultural tradition, regardless of personal religious sentiment.

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