Nowruz , literally mean “ New Day”, has been celebrated for over 3000 years in western Asia, central Asia, the Caucasus, the black Sea Basin and the Balkans. It marks the first day of spring. Nowruz is a public holiday in many countries, including Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and it is also celebrated in Pakistan and India—subcontinent and by Kurds in Turkey and Syria.
People start preparing for Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their house and the purchase of new clothes to wear for the New Year.. Spring flowers likehyacinth and tulips are popular and conspicuous.
Typically before the arrival of Nowruz, a decorative table is set which includes 7 items starting with the letter ‘S’ or ‘Seen’ in the Persian alphabet. Haft Seen is the heart of Nowrouz celebration because it expresses rebirth and renewal. Its presence reminds us of the significance of mother earth. The haft seen is always in a room where family and friends come together to renew and strengthen their bonds in preparation for the year to come. The items include:
- "Sib" (Apple) which represent "Health and beauty"
- "Sabzeh or sprout which represent rebirth
- Senjed" the dry fruit of the lotus tree which represents love. It is said that when Lotus tree is in full bloom , its fragrance and its fruit make people fall in love
- "Serkeh" (Vinegar) which represents age and patience
- "Samanu" is a pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding which represents power and bravery
- "Somaq" (Sumac) berries represent the color of sunrise
- "Seer" (Garlic) which symbolizes Contentment symbol and not to invade others' rights.
Other items which are usually set along the Haft Seen are "Sekkeh" (Coins which symbolize of wealth), a mirror, goldfish, the Holy Quran, book of poetry from the great Persian poet Hafez, and decorated eggs.
On 15 March 2010, the House of Representatives of the United States passed the Nowruz Resolution (H.Res. 267), recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz. Also the Canadian parliament, by unanimous consent, has passed a bill to add Nowruz to the national calendar of Canada, on March 30, 2009.
Also, International Nowruz Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/64/253 of 2010. Un Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, "Nowruz transcends national borders, religious divides and other differences to unite communities with bonds of goodwill. Such common purpose can help humanity rise to this moment in history."