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The new year doesn't always start on Jan. 1

By: Josh Lew on Dec. 28, 2016, 12:07 p.m.
A haft-seen prepared for Nowruz

Photo: Mandana asadi/Wikmedia Commons

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Persian New Year (March)

Nowruz, the Persian New Year, takes place each March on the Vernal Equinox. Its roots go back thousands of years to the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, the world's first recorded monotheistic religion, which thrived in what is now Iran. Celebrated in Iran and by members of the Iranian diaspora, Nowruz is also a national holiday in some countries as well as provinces in the Caucasus and in Central Asia.

To mark the special day, Persians set up decorative tables called haft-seen (pictured) with special dishes, colorful tablecloths and candles. There are parades and cultural events associated with this holiday, but like many other new year celebrations, the main festivities during Nowruz revolve around paying visits to family and close friends. These short visits are usually reciprocated, creating a kind of rolling party.