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Iranians celebrate New Year differently in COVID times

The ancient celebration of Nowruz herald the first day of spring; and it is for the second consecutive year that the novel coronavirus keeps families apart for the new year.

This Nowruz (New Day), starting on March 20, ushers in the Iranian year 1400. The ancient celebration herald the first day of spring and celebrate rebirth; and it is for the second consecutive year that the novel coronavirus keeps families apart for the new year.

Nowruz is always a time of joy. One of the reasons it is so joyful is because people get together, not only family but also neighbors. The street celebrations bring together people who often do not even know each other. This is supposed to be one of the busiest times of the year when people get together and visit their families.

Furthermore, in normal years, millions of Iranians travel to tourist places or some relatives’ homes around the country during the nearly two-week period of the holiday when most businesses and workplaces are closed, as are schools.

As the spring beckons and the lilies and daffodils begin to bloom, impatient Iranians start adorning their homes with colorful decorations. Nowruz celebrations last 13 days, beginning with the first day of spring and culminating with a picnic, but preparations begin well in advance.

Everybody in the family, dressed up in their new clothes, gathers around the Haft-Sin spread looking forward to ‘Saal Tahvil’. As the countdown ushers in the New Year, the members of the family cheer up, hug and kiss each other, and exchange Nowruz greetings, ‘Eid-e Shoma mobarak!’ or ‘Sal-e No Mobarak’ (Happy New Year).

‘Eidi’, new-year gift, is another characteristic feature of Nowruz. Within the family, the head of the household must grant the Eidi to the members of the family. It is to be mentioned that the young visitors do not bring any gifs with them, and may only receive a gift. The rounds of visitations might last as long as twelve days, up to the day of ‘Sizdah Bedar’.

Now everyone, especially the children, move on to visit the elders of the family first, then the rest of their family and finally their friends and the rest of the neighborhood. Adults, too, have a set schedule of visits and receiving visitors. This custom demonstrates the respect that Iranians pay to the elderly. Visits are short, typically taking about 30 minutes.

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