The Huffington Post Canada  |  Posted:  |  Updated: 03/19/14 EDT

What Is Norooz, The Persian New Year, All About? (PHOTOS)

Norooz, or Nowruz, the Persian New Year, happens this week.

Coinciding with the Spring Equinox, its name combines two Persian words: "now," which means new, and "ruz," which means day. It's a time of year in which followers celebrate the coming of spring and the renewal of nature, according to Timeanddate.com.

The official date and time for the new year is March 20 at 8:27 p.m. local time in Tehran, according to Farsinet.

Though secular, Norooz has roots in Zoroastrianism, a religion that focuses on the corresponding work of good and evil in the world and humans' connection to nature, notes Harvard University.

Chahar Shanbe Suri, a fire-jumping tradition that is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year, precedes the new year itself.

Traditionally, people gather around small bonfires in the street and leap over them shouting, "Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man," a Persian phrase that means, "May my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine." The ritual is meant to wash away all the terrible events of the past year.

In recent years, with an eye to safety, some people just light a fire and shout the phrase without coming too close to the flames.

When Norooz arrives, families gather together and say, "Sal-e no mobarak," or "Happy new year!" The oldest member of the family then gives treats and candy to everyone and young children receive coins as presents. Families and neighbours also visit and exchange gifts with each other.

One of the most important Norooz traditions is the "Sofreh-e Haft Seen," a ceremonial table where all dishes begin with the Persian letter "Seen," explains Farsinet.

Dishes include "sabzeh" or sprouts, which represent rebirth; "seeb" or apples, which signify rebirth and beauty; and "serkeh" or vinegar, which stands in for age and patience.

The Associated Press caught some spectacular photos of Chahar Shanbe Suri being celebrated ahead of Norooz at Pardisan Park in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday.

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  • A Kurdish girl who lives in Lebanon wears traditional dress as she dances during the celebration of Nowruz day, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Afghan children attend Nowruz celebrations, near the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • The holy flag is risen at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • AP10ThingsToSee - An Afghan Army soldier secures the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Thousands of Afghans will celebrated Nowruz on Thursday, March 21, 2013 to mark the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid, File)

  • Syrian Kurdish citizens who live in Lebanon and are opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, shout slogans against the Syrian regime as others hold Syrian revolutionary flags, as they celebrate the Nowruz day, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • A Syrian Kurdish man who lives in Lebanon and is opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, shouts slogans against the Syrian regime as others hold Syrian revolutionary flags, as they celebrate the Nowruz day in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • The shadow of Kurds who live in Lebanon silhouetted on the ground, as they dance to their traditional songs during the celebration of Nowruz in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Kurdish citizens who live in Lebanon wear traditional clothes as they dance and wave Kurdish flag on Nowruz, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Syrian Kurds who live in Lebanon wave their Kurdish flags as they celebrate Nowruz in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday March 21, 2013. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'new year', is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring in central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Afghan policemen follow the raising of the holy flag at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Afghan men celebrate Nowruz, at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • Afghan children attend Nowruz celebrations, near the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • The holy flag is risen at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • Afghan men raise the holy flag during Nowruz, at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • Afghan men wait to see the holy flag, at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • An Afghan policeman stands guard near the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • Afghan men wait to see the holy flag, at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. According to local belief, the country's fortune in the New Year depends on the ability of the men to erect the pole. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)

  • Hundreds of Afghan women wait for holy flag to be risen at the Blue Mosque, Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)

  • Hundreds of Afghan men wait holy flag to be risen at the Blue Mosque, Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)

  • Hundreds of Afghan men wait holy flag to be risen at the Blue Mosque, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)

  • Hundreds of Afghan women wait for holy flag to be risen at the Blue Mosque, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Mustafa Najafizada)

  • A balloon seller walks across the graveyard outside the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013, as Afghans celebrate Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

  • An Afghan man helps raise the holy flag, the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. According to local belief, the country's fortune in the New Year depends on the ability of the men to erect the pole. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

  • Hundreds of Afghans wait to see the holy flag at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Afghan policemen follow the raising of the holy flag at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Hundreds of Afghans line up the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque to see the holy flag in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Afghan policemen try to get the crowd under control who are trying to get a glimpse of the holy flag at the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Hundreds of Afghans line up the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque to see the holy flag in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Hundreds of Afghans line up the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque to see the holy flag in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Hundreds of Afghans line up the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque to see the holy flag in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • Hundreds of Afghans line up the hill overlooking the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • An Afghan policeman secures the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Thousands of Afghans celebrate Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • TURKEY-KURDS-HOLIDAY-NOWRUZ

    Kurds hold a giant flag of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as they celebrate on March 21, 2013 Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called on March 21 for a ceasefire, telling militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil, raising hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict with Turkey that has cost tens of thousands of lives. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-KURDS-HOLIDAY-NOWRUZ

    Kurds celebrate on March 21, 2013 Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called on March 21 for a ceasefire, telling militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil, raising hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict with Turkey that has cost tens of thousands of lives. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-KURDS-HOLIDAY-NOWRUZ

    Kurdish people celebrate on March 21, 2013 Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called on March 21 for a ceasefire, telling militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil, raising hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict with Turkey that has cost tens of thousands of lives. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-NOWRUZ

    An Afghan young man and a child stand on top of their home's roof as they watch festivities near the Sakhi shrine, the centre of the Afghanistan new year celebrations in Kabul during Nowruz festivities on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO / Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-NOWRUZ

    Afghan families gather on top of a roof as they watch festivities near the Sakhi shrine, the centre of the Afghanistan new year celebrations in Kabul during Nowruz festivities on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO / Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-KURDS-HOLIDAY-NOWRUZ

    Kurds celebrate on March 21, 2013 Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called on March 21 for a ceasefire, telling militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil, raising hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict with Turkey that has cost tens of thousands of lives. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-KURDS-HOLIDAY-NOWRUZ

    Kurds celebrate on March 21, 2013 Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, and hold banner bearing a portrait of Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish separatist leader, in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. The festival is celebrated in Turkey, Central Asian republics, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan as well as war-torn Afghanistan and coincides with the astronomical vernal equinox. Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called on March 21 for a ceasefire, telling militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil, raising hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict with Turkey that has cost tens of thousands of lives. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LEBANON-KURDS-NORUZ

    Lebanese Kurds celebrate Noruz in the capital, Beirut, on March 21, 2013. The Persian New Year is an ancient Zoroastrian tradition celebrated by Iranians and Kurds which coincides with the vernal (spring) equinox and is calculated by the solar calender. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan revellers gather for Nowruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan women gather for Nowruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan women gather for Nowruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan women gather for Nowruz festivities at the Hazrat-e Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    An Afghan defence serviceman keeps watch as revellers gather for Nowruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan revellers raise the holy mace during Noruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan revellers gather for Nowruz festivities at the Hazrat-e Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    An Afghan defence serviceman keeps watch at the Hazrat-e Ali shrine during Nowruz festivities in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan police keep watch as revellers gather for Nowruz festivities at the Hazrat-e Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AFGHANISTAN-NOWRUZ-FESTIVAL

    Afghan women gather for Nowruz festivities at the Hazrat-e Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif, the centre of the Afghan new year celebrations, on March 21, 2013. Nowruz, one of the biggest festivals of the war-scarred nation, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is calculated according to a solar calendar, this coming year marking 1392. AFP PHOTO/ SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Afghan policeman guards, near the Kart-e Sakhi mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, March 21, 2013. Afghanistan celebrates Nowruz, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year on the Iranian calendar. (AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust)



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