The word Nowruz means new day; its spelling and pronunciation may vary by country. Nowruz marks the first day of spring. It is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world, and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions.
In 2010, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan prepared and introduced a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the 21st of March as International Nowruz Day. Since then, it has been recorded as an International Festival on the UN Calendar.
Nowruz is also the beginning of the New Year in countries like Afghanistan, and Iran. People celebrate both the start of the New Year and also the beginning of spring with different types of festivals. In Iran, the New year holidays start some days before the new year and continue two weeks after the new year, whereas in Afghanistan, Nowruz Celebration only lasts for three days.
People wear new clothes and go to their family and friends’ houses to meet each other and say Happy New Year or Happy Nowruz. Children are very excited as they receive money from their parents, family and friends and they enjoy spending it in the following days. Nature is also starting a new life, as winter is gone and spring with all its greenness is blooming. It is a moment of joy and happiness and a fresh start, moving on from the old year with all its challenges and achievements. It is a time to forgive and put your differences and disagreements in the past and wish for a brighter future.
In Iran, one of the most important traditions of Nowruz decoration from the past to the present is arranging the Haft Seen table. Haft Seen is an arrangement of seven symbolic items. The Haft Seen table includes seven items, all starting with the letter Seen (S) in the Farsi alphabet.
Similarly in Afghanistan, people prepare a special Nowruz Food called Haft Meeva (Seven Fruits) which is a mixture of seven dry fruits including walnut, almond, pistachio, green raisin, red raisen, dry apricot and silver berry (Russian Olive) put in the water for two or three days. It will be served alongside other sweet things and Nowruz cookies.
What about our new Neighbours who are not among family and friends? How are they going to celebrate Nowruz this year?
We, as a church community, can help our friends who are celebrating Nowruz to feel that they are not alone. We are their new friends, neighbours and their new family in the UK. Why not celebrate this Nowruz together!
What can we do as the church community for friends celebrating Nowruz?
- You can simply send a Happy Nowruz Card – we encourage you to use one of our cards below, perhaps with a personalised message on whatsapp or email, and to attach your church contact details so your neighbours know where they can find welcome and connect with your community!
- You can invite your Neighbours to your house for a Nowruz meal – they might even like to cook with you. They will enjoy explaining to you all about Nowruz.
- You can visit your Neighbours in their homes – they may have a Haft Seen table that you can learn about. You can take a box of chocolates, some flowers or some sweets.
- You can offer space in the church for the larger community to celebrate and come together. Ask, how can we help you celebrate?
If you want to speak to the Welcome Churches team for advice or more ideas, please contact Ali or Fatemeh on email@example.com