People looking at a table (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
A traditional Nowruz "Haft Sin" table at the Smithsonian Institution's Freer-Sackler Museum in Washington displays seven items representing renewal and new life. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Millions of Americans across the country are holding Nowruz events to welcome the Persian New Year, and that includes the nation’s capital.

“I feel connected to my roots here, and the familiarity feels good,” said Sarah Ghoddousi, an Iranian American attending the Smithsonian Institution’s 11th annual Nowruz celebration with her 3-year-old son, Sherwin.

People watching calligraphy demonstration (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Nowruz event attendees watch the Persian calligraphy demonstration at this year’s event at the Freer-Sackler Museum. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Nowruz, the first day of the year on the Persian calendar, is a holy day for Zoroastrians and Baha’is and is a national holiday in Iran and many Central Asian countries. It’s also observed in many regions in the Caucasus and the Balkans as well as in Western Asia.

Ghoddousi said she also came to last year’s Norwuz event in Washington. “I want my son to be familiar with Persian celebrations.”

Nowruz is observed on the March equinox, the day when the sun directly shines on the Earth’s equator and the daytime and nighttime hours are about equal. This year in the United States it falls on March 20.

Shadow puppet show (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Nowruz event attendees watch a shadow puppet performance from the 11th-century Persian classic “Shahnama,” or “Book of Kings.” (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

“Nowruz is not complete without music in our family,” said Afghan American Mojib Ziarmal Ghaznawi, who displayed a table with traditional Afghan musical instruments at the celebration, held at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. “Music remedies our homesickness.”