Nowruz is the Persian New Year celebration. It takes place in the spring. Read this article and find out how people celebrate this important day.

Nowruz is the Persian, or Iranian, spring celebration of the New Year. It’s the most important festival of the year in Iran, and it's a public holiday there and in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania and other countries in South and Central Asia. It’s a happy occasion, and there may be as many as 13 days’ holiday from school!

When is it?

Nowruz begins at the exact day, hour and minute of the spring equinox, when night and day are of equal length. This is usually on 21 March. It’s the day when winter changes into spring, and it feels like a new beginning.

Spring cleaning

People prepare for Nowruz by cleaning the whole house, and everyone in the family helps out. Carpets, windows and curtains are cleaned. Anything broken is repaired or replaced. Silverware is polished. The house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year. They also put on brand new clothes to symbolise a fresh start.

Fire jumping

In the evening of the last Wednesday before Nowruz, bonfires are lit and people jump over the flames. The flames burn away sickness and bad luck.

Nowruz and the seven Ss

It’s important to start the year well: clean, smart, relaxed, happy and surrounded by loved ones. So, just before Nowruz, the whole family comes together. They celebrate around a special table in their house. It’s called the haftseen, which means ‘seven Ss’. On it, there are seven special objects, all of which begin with the ‘s’ sound in the Farsi language and which symbolise something. There are actually more than seven, but here are some of the most common.

Persian name What it is What it symbolises
somaq a bright red spice made from crushed berries sunrise and the spice of life
sonbol hyacinth spring
sekeh coins prosperity
senjed the sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree love
seeb apples health and beauty
samanu a sweet pudding made from wheat the sweetness of life
sabzeh sprouted wheat grass rebirth and the renewal of nature

Some other symbolic objects are placed on the table, depending on the traditions of each family. These include a goldfish, painted eggs, candles and a mirror.

Nowruz in the UK

In the UK, Nowruz is celebrated by families from Iran and other countries. They set up a haftseen table in their homes too, but it’s difficult to find some of the objects in British supermarkets so they usually have to go to special Iranian shops to buy them. They send greetings to other family members living far away by phone or message. Nowruz is a happy and exciting time, even though there aren’t any school holidays for it in the UK.

Sometimes around Nowruz, events are organised to promote Iranian culture. These can include concerts, film screenings and museum exhibitions.

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Do you celebrate Nowruz? How do you celebrate it?


Arivelde's picture
Arivelde 11 May, 2021 - 16:46

No, I don't celebrate Nowruz, actually I've never heard about it before, but it seams very nice, happy and fun.

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Andrii's picture
Andrii 11 April, 2020 - 15:02

I don't celebrate Nowruz, but I celebrate Easter. It's celebrated in Spring, but there isn't and exact date for this holiday. A few days before Easter, people in my country paint and decorate eggs in different colours and then we eat them. We also play a game called "knocking". Two people take two eggs and knock them and the winner is the person, whose egg isn't cracked.

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empty's picture
empty 24 June, 2019 - 09:07

Nowruz is really fun !
In Nowruz we have two weeks holiday . One of the characters of this occasion is Amo Nowruz . ( In English : Uncle Nowruz ) In Persian legends and stories , He is the one who brings the spring to world ! One of the traditions of this occasion is setting (Haftsin) .

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Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 15 February, 2019 - 14:42

Judging by this article Nowruz is cleaning celebration that people prepare new year's in Iran ,but I didn't know until reading this article , I don't know south east culture as well. In my country We celebrate with cleaning in my house with family at new year's day.We clean table,window,floor,selling,balcony and curtain as well . This new year's day I did't clean in my room.I watched TV at that time.I had waste of time at this year .

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ariina's picture
ariina 22 March, 2018 - 08:56

thanks for this wonderful topic it really surprised me... I'm Iranian and we celebrate our new year "nowruz" like you said.

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SLMT's picture
SLMT 24 October, 2017 - 08:23

In my country,Nowruz is not celebrated.This is my first time I have read about Nowruz.But it sounds amazing. It seems happy and meaningful day too.By reading this article,I can know different festivals around the world.I really love read UK session because I can read a lot of things I have never heard.

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YSB8791's picture
YSB8791 25 April, 2017 - 07:34

Nowruz also celebrate in Uzbekistan. This holiday is very important for uzbeks. It says Navro'z in uzbek language. In this day uzbek people cooks national foods like sumalak, green samsa, green meat dumplings, plov, halim and others. I think this foods will liked every nation.

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baroonmlk's picture
baroonmlk 15 March, 2017 - 08:44

ohhh .... it's so nice to know that nowruz is coming up . it's the most fascinating holiday of the year that you can make all the difficulties of the last year go . a really special time to forgive or to be forgiven . we celebrate nowruz every year as we live in Iran and we have fun with family . in these 13 days off , we have parties , picnics and and so many enjoyable events .
i hope you all have a happy nowruz and a happy new year :)

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Jonathan - Coor... 12 March, 2017 - 09:01

Hi mavis2002 and thanks for the feedback! We hope you can get used to the new design soon. :) Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens)
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mavis2002's picture
mavis2002 11 March, 2017 - 20:01

Nowruz is really enjoyable.
I live in Ilam it's small city in west of Iran with beautiful nature .
In nowruz we have a lot of tourists in Ilam.
When nowruz come all People are happy and want to shopping to wear new things in new year.
Befor Nowruz a person who is famous by Amoo Nowruz come and say nowruz is in road to come.It is really interesting man.
All of Iranian people flatten Haft Sin and in special time sit near that and pray to have good year near they Familly!!
Happy nowruz:)

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