On this International Day of Nowruz, the entire international community expresses its solidarity with the 300 million women, men and children who, because of COVID-19, may not all be able to partake of their usual celebrations to welcome the arrival of spring and mark the start of the new year.
Although many will be unable to join in the festivities this year, we can at least celebrate Nowruz’s profound significance. This significance is the reason for whichthe festival of Nowruz is included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is what the poet Hafiz exalted in his collected works, or Dīvān: “Morning breeze, its fragrance will exhale / The old world will once again youthfully sail. / Tulip will bring a red cup to the meadows / Narcissus’ eyes from poppy will grow pale. / When would nightingale put up with such abuse / In the chamber of the rose cry and wail.”
This is the message of hope which the festival of Nowruz brings, as do the feast days of Saint Barbara in Lebanon and Saint Joseph in Sardinia, and as did the cults of Osiris in ancient Egypt and Aphrodite in ancient Greece. By bringing germinated seeds and young shoots to the fore, all these festivals celebrate the strength of life springing forth and the fertility of the world.
This year, this message takes on a very special meaning for all humankind: as the world contends with one of the worst pandemics in recent history, as the environment changes and as biodiversity collapses, we must join forces not only to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but also to preserve the hospitality and beauty of the world.
On this International Day of Nowruz, UNESCO thus would like to call upon everyone to remain united and not to lose sight of the hope that comes with the springtime renewal of life.