Norooz spirit:


Norooz is the Iranian new year festival. The word itself literally means "new day" in Persian language and the festival marks the beginning of the solar year as well as the new year on the Iranian and several other national calendars.

At its core, the Noroozfestival celebrates the awakening of the natural life. This awakening symbolizes the triumph of good, winning against the evil forces of darkness that are represented by the Winter.
Noroozis the point when the oppressive presence of the cold Winter finally begins to retrieve with the commencement of the lively and hopeful Spring. This symbolic and poetic change corresponds to the mathematical instance of the sun leaving the zodiac of Pisces and entering the zodiacal sign of Aries, also known as the Spring Equinox.

As described above, Norooz represents much of what Iranian/Persian character, history, politics and religion are all about. For centuries, Persians have applied the Norooz spirit to every dark challenge that has come their way. This spirit has made Norooz far more than just a New year celebration!

History of Norooz:

The calendar keeps track of months and years. There is no record of calendars and the way people calculated dates in the pre-Achaemenian era. After the Achaemenids, however, two kinds of calendar were created.

The first calendar was found in Persepolis inscriptions. It consisted of twelve months, probably beginning in autumn. This calendar was a solar calendar, including leap years.
The calendar keeps track of months and years. There is no record of calendars and the way people calculated dates in the pre-Achaemenian era. After the Achaemenids, however, two kinds of calendar were created.

The first calendar was found in Persepolis inscriptions. It consisted of twelve months, probably beginning in autumn. This calendar was a solar calendar, including leap years.

The second calendar was the Avesta calendar which was the origin of the current Iranian calendar.
In ancient Iran lunar months were used in a different way. The week, which was one of the bases of the Semitic calendar, did not exist. Instead, the month was divided into thirty days, each month having a specific name.

The year in the Avestaian calendar was comprised of 365 days which made up twelve 30-day months. The five remaining days were called "Panjeh".

In the old Persia, the time of the king's coronation was considered the beginning of the calendar and the years were named after the kings. For example, they said, 'the fifth month of Ardeshir's seventh year of rule'. In 247 B.C., beginning with the Parthian era, the origin of the calendar was changed. Beginning with the Sassanid dynasty, again the calendar was changed to that used in the Achaemenian era.At the time of Yazdgerd, the last Sassanid king, the year 631 A.D. was chosen as a new beginning for the Iranian calendar. Since no king ascended the throne after him, that calendar remained in use as the Yazdgerdi calendar.

According to Zoroastrian belief, the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar calendar) refers to the Faravashis (spirits) which return t the material world during the last tend days of the year. Therefore, the Zoroastrians honor the ten-day period in order to make the spirits of their deceased ancestors happy. The tradition by some of going to cemeteries before Noroozmay have its origin in this belief. Others have narrated tales about the origin of norooz. One version is that on this day, Kia Khosrow, son of Parviz Bardina, ascended the throne and made Iranshahr flourish.
Another version is that on this special day (1st of Farvardin), Jamshid, the Pishdadi king, sat on golden throne while people carried him on their shoulders. They saw the sun's rays on the king and celebrated the day.

Yet another story mentions Solomon who lost his ring and, as a result, lost his reign. After searching for it for forty days, he found his ring and recovered his sovereignty. Hence, the people cried, "Norooz(the new day) has come".

In ancient times the Noroozfestival started on the first day of Farvardin (January 21, but it is not certain how long that lasted. In some royal courts the festivities continued for one month. According to some documents, the Noroozgeneral festival was held until the fifth day of Farvardin, and the Noroozspecial festival continued until the end of the month. Perhaps, during the first five days of Farvardin, the Noroozfestival was of a public and national nature, while during the rest of the month it assumed a private and royal aspect, when the kings received the common people at the royal court.
The Noroozcelebration is an ancient, national Iranian custom. The details of Noroozcelebrations before the Achaemenian era are not known to us. There is no mention of Noroozcelebrations in Avesta. It is not known either how the Noroozfestival was viewed from the standpoint of the religious beliefs of ancient Persians. However, there exist some references to Noroozfestival in a few books written in the Sassanid era.

According to some Babylonian works, Achaemenian kings sat in the veranda of their palace during Noroozcelebrations receiving representatives of different states who offered their precious gifts to the kings. It is said that Darius the Great, an Achaemenian king (421-486 B.C.), visited the temple of Ba'al Mardook, the great deity in ancient Babylon, at the outset of every new year.
The Parthians and Sassanids also celebrated Noroozevery year by holding special rituals and ceremonies.On the morning of norooz, the king wore his adorned garments and entered the court alone. Then, someone famous for his lucky steps arrived in the court. Next, the supreme Moobed (Zoroastrian priest),

holding a golden cup and ring and coins, a sword, a bow and arrow, ink, a quill and flowers arrived at court, reciting a special prayer.

High-ranking government officials arrived after the supreme Moobed, presenting their gifts to the king. The king sent the precious gifts to the treasury and distributed other gifts among the audience. Twenty-five days before norooz, twelve pillars made of mud bricks were built in the courtyard; and twelve different kinds of seed were sown on tops of the pillars.

On the sixth day of norooz, they picked the newly grown plants and strewed them over the floor in the court, not collecting them till the 16th of Farvardin, called Mehr Day. Building a fire was another public custom observed particularly on the eve of norooz. The fire which Iranians by tradition build on the last Wednesday of the year has its origin in this ancient custom. Ancient Persians respected fire; it was believed fire can help purify the air.

On the first morning of norooz, people sprinkled water on one another. After converting to Islam, the custom was preserved, only they used rose-water instead. Among other Norooztraditions was bathing on 6th of Farvardin (March 26) and offering sugar to each other as a gift. The most glorious tradition, however, was allowing legumes to grow in a shallow dish of water, called "Sabzeh".

Islam and Norooz:

During the fist two centuries after Islam, the Noroozfestival was not observed earnestly due to changes in the social and political circumstances. Gradually, the greedy Omayyad caliphs, wishing to increase their revenues through Noroozgifts, revived the custom of celebrating the Noroozfestival. Beginning with the Abbasid era, the caliphs began to respect Persian traditions.

Released from the domination of Arabs, Persians began to revive their ancestors' customs. According to the great Persian scientist. Aburayhan Birooni, in the 4th century A.H. (After Hejira), the rulers of Khorassan Province presented new uniforms to their guards and troops on norooz.
Noroozfestival was also celebrated by the Samanid and Ghaznavid dynasties until the Mongols invaded Persia.

After the Mongol invasion, as any other national tradition, Noroozlast its significance. Nevertheless, as time passed, it was gradually observed again. In the Safavid era, Noroozflourished again.
After the Safavid dynasty the Noroozcelebration maintained its status and was regularly observed in royal courts. Nader Shah celebrated Noroozeven in time of war. In the Qajar era, the Norooztradition was preserved; the Qajar monarches presented outfits, horses, money and adornments to their troops. The common people also celebrated Noroozgloriously.

Today, Noroozis celebrated as splendidly as ever. Setting the Haftsin (Norooztable) and sitting around it at the turn of the year, wearing new garments, presenting Eidi (gifts of crisp paper money) to children, sprinkling rose-water, eating sweets and celebrating sizdeh-be-dar (13th Farvardin or 2nd April) are practiced by Iranians, even those living abroad.

Muslim Iranians light candles as a symbol of ancient Persians' respect for fire, and place the Holy Qur'an on the Norooztable to show their esteem for this divine book. In recent years, by honoring the Noroozfestival, Iranians have demonstrated their steadfast attachment to their national customs and traditions while firmly believing in the holy religion of Islam.