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 Nowruz activities for kids!
Learn About Nowruz
Nowruz 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. It 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.
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.
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 for each child of the family
- a goldfish in a bowl for good luck
- painted eggs
Another Haft Seen table display
You can find a colouring page of a Haft Seen table to print and enjoy, below!
Sprouting wheat for a Haft Seen table
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
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...
Hafiz, or Hafez, was a Persian poet born in 1326. This lovely printable poster contains his poem "The Sun never says to the Earth...".
Even After All this time The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
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...
This is a brilliant nature craft for kids, who will love creating their own grass head monster and watching him sprout hair! One of our most popular crafts anytime!
Print our Happy Nowruz colouring card onto good paper or card, then colour and fold in half. All ready for the New Year celebrations!
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!
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.
Use this poem planning sheet as the starter for a sensory poem based on Nowruz, a holiday and celebration that dates back thousands of years!
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?
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.
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?
There are traditional origami candle models, but they are very, very difficult! Weve cheated a little, therefore, to create this origami candle for kids to fold, but the finished result is very impressive!