Nowruz

Nowruz means "New Day" and is the Persian New Year. You can find out about the traditions of this happy celebration below as well as enjoy some of our new Nowruz activities for kids!

Nowruz Activities for Kids

Learn About Nowruz

It is celebrated on the Spring Equinox - 20th/21st March - each year and is a joyful, colourful celebration dating back at least 3,000 years and featuring many ancient rites and customs. Also known as Noruz, Norouz, Norooz, Noe Ruz, Naw Ruz and many other variations, the holiday originated in the ancient Zoroastrian religion, once widespread in Central and Western Asia, but is now a secular holiday celebrated by Iranians all over the world and also in Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajikestan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Preparations for the Holiday

Like many celebrations of Spring, preparations for Nowruz involve a good spring cleaning of the house! New clothes are bought, and flowers - particularly hyacinths - are put out on display. The Haft Seen table will be arranged (see below), and all sorts of pastries and cookies and nuts and dried fruit will be bought ready for the celebrations. On the last night of the old year, known as chaharshanbe souri or “Red Wednesdayˮ, children will often run through the streets banging pots and pans to make a loud noise, thumping on doors and asking for sweets! Fires are lit and families jump over the fires (don't try this at home please!) while singing traditional songs.

Haji Firuz

In some areas, a man will dress up as Haji Firuz, the traditional herald of the new year - wearing all red clothes, with a red felt hat and face covered in soot. Traditionally Haji Firuz would dance through the streets with a troop of musicians singing his own special song and playing a tambourine, people joining in and following along. This custom is becoming less common.

The Haft Seen Table

Also known as the Haft Sin table, this is a vital part of the celebrations and much care is taken with the display.

Haft Seen table
Photo by Mandana asadi, Creative Commons Licence

First a special cloth (the sofreh) is spread on the table, then seven traditional items are placed carefully. Each of the seven items begins with the Persian letter Sin.

  • Sabzeh - wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish to symbolise abundance
  • Samanu - a sweet pudding which symbolises affluence
  • Senjed - the dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolising love
  • Seer - garlic, for protection against illness
  • Seeb - apple, for health and beauty
  • Somāq - sumac fruit, for sunrise, a new dawn
  • Serkeh - vinegar, for old-age and patience

Sometimes the following are also placed on the table:

  • A book of poetry by Hafiz (or Hafez), a Persian poet from the 14th Century (or a copy of the Koran)
  • gold coins
  • a mirror with candles on either side it for each child of the family
  • a goldfish in a bowl for good luck
  • hyacinths
  • painted eggs

Haft Seen table
Another Haft Seen table display

You can find a colouring page of a Haft Seen table to print and enjoy, below!

Sprouting wheat for the Haft Seen table
Sprouting wheat for a Haft Seen table

The Celebrations

On the first day of the New Year, families dress up in their new clothes and wait near the Haft Seen table for the exact moment of the New Year, then exchange gifts. Afterwards it is traditional to pay visits to family, friends and neighbours, starting with the most senior members of the family. Visits are returned, so there is much to-ing and fro-ing and lots of opportunity to tuck into new year food! If family and friends live far enough away to make visiting difficult, big family parties may be held instead. Visiting continues for 12 full days. On the 13th day, Sizdah Bedar, families and friends gather together outside for picnics, music, dancing and outdoor fun. On this day the sabzeh (sprouting wheat) from the Haft Seen table is thrown away outdoors, taking with it the family's bad luck.

Nowruz Activities for Kids

Bonfire Collage

Bonfire Collage

Celebrate Bonfire Night with this wonderful collage bonfire collage.  It also makes a good campfire craft for summer.

You will need:

Bonfire Painting

Bonfire Painting

Here is a clever technique which will allow children to create a really effective bonfire painting for Bonfire Night (or Holi, or Fourth of July, or Diwali) or a campfire for summer...

Even After All This Time Poster

Even After All This Time Poster

Hafiz, or Hafez, was a Persian poet born in 1326.

Even After All this time The Sun never says to the Earth,

"You owe me."

Look What happens With a love like that, It lights the whole sky.

Family Picnic Colouring Page

Family Picnic Colouring Page

Here's a really lovely, detailed colouring page of an idyllic family picnic for the kids to get colouring on! Perfect for a not so perfect summer's day, perhaps...

Grow A Grass Head Monster

Grow A Grass Head Monster

This is a brilliant nature craft for kids, who will love creating their own grass head monster and watching him sprout hair!

You will need:

Happy Nowruz Colouring Card

Happy Nowruz Colouring Card

Print our Happy Nowruz colouring card onto good paper or card, then colour and fold in half. All ready for the New Year celebrations!

Happy Nowruz Colouring Page

Happy Nowruz Colouring Page

This Nowruz colouring page features a Haft Seen table with all the traditional items, as well as a big HAPPY NOWRUZ greeting to colour in!  

Nowruz Cut and Stick Activity

Nowruz Cut and Stick Activity

Cut out the objects and stick them onto the Haft Seen table so that you are ready to celebrate Nowruz! Your child can always draw on an extra object or two, too.

Nowruz Story Paper

Nowruz Story Paper

Use this story paper (which comes with either lines or handwriting lines) to write what you've learned about Nowruz or to describe your own Nowruz celebrations. Or how about writing a Nowruz letter to grandparents?

Nowruz Word Search

Nowruz Word Search

This Nowruz word search includes a number of words associated with the holiday for the kids to find. You might also enjoy our Nowruz word search 2, which features items commonly found on a Haft Seen table.

Nowruz Word Search 2

Nowruz Word Search 2

This word search for Nowruz includes a number of words that might be found on your Haft Seen table for the New Year celebrations. Can the kids find them all?

Origami Candle And Candleholder

Origami Candle And Candleholder

There are traditional origami candle models, but they are very, very difficult! We’ve cheated a little, therefore, to create this origami candle for kids to fold, but the finished result is very impressive!

Picnic Word Search

Picnic Word Search

Can the kids find all the picnic-related words in this word search puzzle?

More Ideas for Nowruz

Hyacinths
Hyacinths are displayed around the house at Nowruz and are often placed on the Haft Seen table. Explore our new hyacinth activities here:
Hyacinths

Goldfish
Goldfish bring good luck to the family when placed on the Haft Seen table. Have fun with our goldfish here:
Goldfish

Apples
Another item displayed on the Haft Seen table is the apple. We've got some fun apple crafts and printables here:
Apples

Candles
Why not have a go at one of our candle crafts? Or more... remember, one candle for each child in the family!
Candles

Eggs
How about some eggs! Type "egg" into the search box at the top right hand corner of this page and you'll find all our "eggy" activities, including this fun big egg game!

Spring
Nowruz is all about saying goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring! We've got lots of lovely spring activities to explore here:
Spring

You can learn more about Nowruz by watching this interesting and informative video with the kids.

And Finally...

Iran
Iran

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