OPINION: Celebrating Iranian New Year

Wigram’s Zahra Hussaini is an active part of the refugee and migrant community. She teaches children morals and ethics and volunteers for Who is Hussain? an organisation which aims to provide for those in need. In this article she talks about recent Iranian New Year celebrations

March 21 marked our new year which is known as Nowruz literally meaning new day.

Nowruz is on the first day of spring in Iran, Afghanistan and some neighbouring countries and they celebrate this special event with their special traditions. It taks place during March every year, so it almost coincides with Easter, which helps us in finding some decorative accessories/chocolates we can use.

Usually during new year people have a good spring clean, shop a lot and wear new clothes, then visit families, friends and relatives to show respect. We have a special table spread which consists of a mirror, candles, our holy book (Quran), sweets, nuts, fruits, flowers, coins, eggs, vinegar, garlic. Each of them resembles blessing and good future for the upcoming year basically.

A special dinner is cooked for the new year time, mostly rice and different types of curries, depending on the family’s preferences. New year is all about having food and socialising to enjoy and celebrate.

Mostly younger ones have to visit the elderly first, then they get a present from the older people which is usually cash. Nowruz is a holiday for the ones who celebrate in the northern hemisphere so people don’t go to work or school. It takes about two weeks for people to get back to work and school with lots of great memories.

In Christchurch, sometimes we gather as a big group at a park to celebrate this event by bringing different food and sweets to enjoy everyone’s company. Children and young people play around the park, elderly sit together with their friends to have tea and chat.

We obviously don’t have a long week to celebrate Nowruz and take time off school and work in New Zealand, but we try our best to keep the traditions of visiting friends and families to celebrate our new year alive.