For centuries, people have created a number of celebrations which was following the movement of the sun (equinox) and even today we are following either the Lunar or the Solar calendars. On the 21st of March or the third week of March is the usual celebration of Nawruz by the Persians and some of the other cultures. Nawruz in our traditions is known as the day of the new (naw) ruz (day) or in other words can be considered as a Persian new year. Little do anyone know about the equinox that is followed by the number of cultures via different traditions. Here we will briefly touch upon the celebration and its meaning for various parts.
What is Equinox?
Lets start by looking at the equinox itself, according to the Oxford dictionary, “the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth and occurring about March 21 (vernal equinox, or spring equinox ) and September 22 (autumnal equinox ).” These dates have only come into my mind after the discussion with a Turkish Professor who was questioning why does the Nawruz as a celebration so significant to the Persians, referring that it is just another day, although in Turkey (Turkiye) they do have a relevant acknowledgement of Nevruz the general attitude of the public is seeing it as just another day rather than the celebration of the the movement of the sun.
The significance of Nawruz
As far as I briefly remember my childhood, I reminiscing the days of the past when the family would gather together across the big table with a lot of various traditional baked and cooked food and congratulate each other on the new day or the new years. Then all of us will take a stroll to the center city (maidan) where would enjoy big celebration and the decorations that the government has put it out to keep everyone happy. it was also the day when the parents would have the time off work and would spend the time with us taking us across the parks and spoiling the kids with various yummy sugary gums, ice creams etc.
Kids are excited to celebrate Nawruz and this is the reason why
Therefore for us as kids the main significance part of the day was spending time with parents and extended family, while getting spoiled with the various activities as well as getting sugar high. For the country and its history it could be the reference of the first day of spring when the farmers will go into the field and start planting the first seeds. These are the significant days for the farmers as the winters in the Former Persian states would get battered pretty badly during harsh winters, meaning that the land is ready to be used again for the points that it was designed for, which is to feed people that live off it.
Grassroots or the wheatgrass?
The typical presentation of the beginning of the successful farming time is the first grassroots of the wheat grass as can be seen in the photos above. They will be presented in various forms and show the significance of the Nawrooz celebration in all of its beauty. These days the central city of Tajikistan builds a giant looking cake but the roots of it is the reference to the wheatgrass.
Equinox celebrations across different cultures
So, going back to the point of the sun movement, Nawruz and equinox. It came to my realization that the significance of the dates are celebrated in various forms. For the Persians, Central Asians and Turks to some extent is the forgotten knowledge of the movement of the sun and time to drop the seeds. For the Slavic people the equinox occurs a little bit earlier, between Feb 28 – 8 March, where they would call it differently depending on the country but the meaning is still the same. While for the Indians and people from South East Asia celebrating it during the September or the October time. Meaning that the significance is not specifically relevant to the name of Nawruz but the actual equinox that has landed on various parts of the world.