The most important and famous ancient and religious festivals of Iran

Since ancient times, there have been various celebrations and festivals in the countries of the world, in turn, evoke a part of the culture of that region or country. The land of Iran, with its ancient history and civilization and its cultural and ethnic diversity, is rich in narratives and cultural and social values, which can be used to establish hundreds of festivals. However, there are dozens of significant cultural and religious festivals and events throughout Iran, some of which are also held in most Persian-speaking countries. In this article, we have collected 10 of Iran’s most famous carnivals and festivals, which will undoubtedly become a memorable experience by participating in or visiting them.

The Persian New Year “NOWRUZ”: March 21 and the first day of spring

In the Persian language called “Farsi”, Now means “new” and Ruz “day”; the term Ruz is the result of the contraction of the name of Hormozd, in turn derives from the name of Ahura Mazdah, the “Wise Lord” the divine figure of the Zoroastrian religion. This festival coincides with the first day of spring (March 21-22), when the sun enters the sign of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. According to the mythical Iranian and Zoroastrian traditions, Nowruz is the day in which the universe was created, which in turn can also mark rebirth.

The Night of Yalda

The longest night of the year

The winter solstice marks the longest night in the Persian calendar, Yalda (December 21 or 22), celebrated by Iranian families since ancient times and as Nowruz – Persian New Year, March 21 – is a festival whose origin dates back to the pre-Islamic period.

The festival celebrates the birth of a sun goddess, Mitra. This festival symbolizes the triumph of light against darkness. Starting tonight, the days get longer and longer. According to the Persian calendar, tonight welcomes dey, the first month of winter.

Families often meet at grandparents’ homes on that night. Before, people sat around the korsí, a piece of furniture with a table as a brazier and a blanket on it, and there they placed food and fruits.

That night’s foods consist of watermelon, pomegranate, grapes, walnuts and pistachios, dried fruits, sweets, and tea. Eating watermelon is believed to strengthen the body’s immune system during winter.

That night is celebrated not only in Iran, but also in neighboring countries such as Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia. One of the customs of this ritual is to taste food and fruits and learn about their destiny through Hafez, a Persian mystical poet. Each person with a longing opens Hafez’s Book (Divan Hafez) at random and reads a poem from him.

This tradition is so important in Iranian culture that it was included in the National Heritage of Iran in 2008 and is pending addition to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.