Ringing in the new year with Nowruz

Young women dancing during parade (© Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)
Women participate in New York City's annual Persian Parade in 2017. (© Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

All across the United States, Americans will celebrate Nowruz, which means “new day.”

The Persian New Year begins on the spring equinox, the day the sun shines directly on the equator and the daytime and nighttime hours are nearly equal. Nowruz is a holy day for Zoroastrians and Baha’is and a national holiday in Iran and many Central Asian countries. It’s also observed in many regions in the Caucasus and the Balkans and in western and Central Asia. People have been celebrating Nowruz for more than 3,000 years.

“The Nowruz holiday brings family and friends together around the table to give thanks for loved ones, count our blessings, share meals and gifts, reflect on the year that has passed, and welcome the arrival of spring and the possibilities of a new season,” President Biden said in 2022.

Dancers in costume performing on stage (© Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Dancers perform during a 2016 Nowruz event at the United Nations in New York. (© Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

New Yorkers celebrate Nowruz with the annual Persian Parade, a prelude to its Nowruz Festival. This year’s parade is dedicated to the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement.

Protests led by Iranian women and girls chanting that slogan began in the wake of the death of Mahsa Zhina Amini, a young Iranian woman who died September 16 while in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police. The three pillars of this year’s parade are unity, human rights and woman, life, freedom.

The Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit that celebrates and champions Iranian art and culture, will mark Nowruz with two events in Southern California. The first, scheduled for March 20 on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles, bills itself as America’s largest free celebration of Nowruz. It will include dancers, traditional musicians, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and a Persian tea house serving Persian sandwiches, shirini, ice cream and other treats.

The foundation will follow up with a concert March 26 by the Orange County Pacific Symphony. Special guests for the Nowruz Concert: Unity for Freedom include Azam Ali, Sussan Deyhim, Tara Ghassemieh and Shardad Rohani — all of Iranian descent.

Woman holding tray of food next to another woman (© Monica Almeida/Reuters)
Volunteers serve food in 2018 at the Midnight Mission shelter to celebrate Nowruz in Los Angeles. (© Monica Almeida/Reuters)