On this day, March 21st, each year Turks, Kurds, Iranians, and many other people across central Asia celebrate their traditional New Year.
This centuries-old festival centres around the northern hemisphere’s Spring Equinox, marking the start of a new calendar year when spring breathes new life into nature, and the region enjoys far more sunlight. It is a time of both spiritual and physical rebirth, bringing with it hopes and aspirations for a better future.
Each community has its own unique rituals to mark the day. Many will undertake a major spring-clean of their homes, visit the graves of loved ones, and pray. They will wear new clothes and display fresh spring flowers for the occasion. Family and friends will visit each other, and communal celebrations are held in the streets and other public places.
Some will make a wish they write on a ribbon and tie to a tree. Others, believing in the power and purification of the natural elements, light a bonfire and make a wish as they jump over it.
For Alevis, this day denotes the birth of their prophet Ali, while some followers of the Old Testament believe this was the day God created Adam and the Earth.
Happy Nevruz! Nevruz’un kutlu olsun! Newroz piroz be!
In his annual nevruz message, Turkey’s President Erdoğan said: “Across a wide geography, Nevruz is the waking of the earth and the arrival of spring, a day that symbolises fraternity, friendship and solidarity. I wish all our citizens and brothers and sisters a very happy Nevruz day.”
The word nevruz is derived from the Persian nowroz, meaning ‘new’ (now) and day (roz). So on this day, you can wish a happy new year in Turkish by saying Nevruz’un kutlu olsun, or Newroz piroz be in Kurdish.
Free Nevruz festival this Sunday
Last weekend, Kurds in Britain held their big annual Newroz gathering on Finsbury Park.
This Sunday, 26 March, the public is invited to a free Turkic celebration of Nevruz in central London. Organised by the UK World of Turks Solidarity Platform, their free Central Asian Spring Festival is taking place between noon and 4pm at UCL (University College London) on Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.