International Day of Nowruz

21 March

Nowruz, meaning “new day”, is an ancestral festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. It includes rituals, ceremonies and cultural events, as well as the enjoyment of a special meal with loved ones. New clothes are worn, visits are made to family and friends, and gifts, especially for children, are exchanged.

Celebrated for over 3000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions, it promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighborliness.

As it contributes to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities, Nowruz fits closely with UNESCO’s mandate.

In particular with relation to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Nowruz was inscribed as an element in 2009, and extended in 2016, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, at the joint initiative of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

In 2010, the “International Day of Nowruz” was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/64/253. This Resolution welcomes the efforts of Member States where Nowruz is celebrated to preserve and develop the culture and traditions related to Nowruz, and encourages Member States to make efforts to raise awareness about Nowruz and to organize annual events in commemoration of this festivity.

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

"Since it signifies a new beginning, Nowruz is also a festival that is filled with hope, as expressed in the gentle and elegant words of the Persian poet Hafez: “Springtime is here again/With the charm of roses./Look at their fresh cheeks/And the bitter plant of sadness/Will be uprooted from your heart”. The fires that are lit at Nowruz in the Iranian countryside, on the northern plains of Iraq and on the beaches of Los Angeles burn up the bad luck and suffering of the previous year and carry the promise of future joy and a more peaceful world."

—  Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day of Nowruz

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