The Persian New Year, Nowruz, is a celebration of spring, renewal, and rebirth.The Vernal Equinox falls on March 20th this year -- its earliest arrival in more than a century -- and with it people the world over will celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year that also heralds the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Pronounced "no-rooz," the holiday has its roots in Zoroastrianism, a pre-Islamic monotheistic religion which focuses on the triumph of good over evil and the connection between human beings and nature. It's been celebrated for thousands of years as a time of renewal and rebirth in many countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and parts of Canada, China, the Balkans, and the United States.
"I am delighted to send best wishes to all those celebrating the festival of Nowruz," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an official statement on Monday. "For over 3,000 years, Nowruz has been a time of hope for millions of people around the world. The spirit of compassion, family, and renewal is deeply woven throughout all of the rich cultural traditions of Nowruz, and reminds us of our shared commitment to a better world."
According to The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the most important parts of the Nowruz celebration is making the haft-seen table, a display filled with symbolic items such as apples (for health and beauty), Sprouted wheat grass (for rebirth and renewal), coins (for prosperity), and candles (for light and happiness). Families often decorate eggs -- similar to Easter eggs -- as symbols of fertility, and strengthen communities by spending time visiting friends and family.
Many believe that whatever you do on Nowruz sets the tone for the rest of the year. To this end, world leaders usually use the the occasion to call for peace and cooperation, as Secretary Clinton did this year.
"The people of the United States join you in welcoming the opportunities of this new year and the possibilities for strengthening ties of family and friends," she said. "And as we face new challenges, we remain committed to our support for universal human rights and the freedom of expression -- rights that promote peace and progress. May your Nowruz be glorious, and all your days be Nowruz."
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