In recognition of the new attack, this time in Brussels, I’m posting this week’s blog a day early. May we all remember that in the world, many will usher in their new year today in peace. …
Nowruz is a happy holiday, celebrated for over 3,000 years by billions of people.
And before I went to Kazakhstan, I’d never heard of it.
Here’s how I described the holiday in At Home on the Kazakh Steppe, at the start of Chapter 15:
Spring, officially beginning on March 1, couldn’t come soon enough for me, and with it came Nauryz (pronounced NOW ruz), a holiday celebrated on March 22. Observed throughout Central Asia and beyond, it is perhaps the oldest holiday in recorded history, a contribution originally from the ancient Persian religion, Zoroastrianism. It’s New Year’s Day for the nearly one and a half billion Muslims around the world, and I had never heard of it.
Banned during Soviet times, Nauryz still wasn’t an official holiday in Kazakhstan, but schools, banks, and businesses across the nation closed. The entire town, it seemed, flowed down Alashakhana, despite the fact that the day was cold and cloudy with a raw wind that made being outside most unpleasant.
Since I wrote that, a few things have changed.
It is now (officially) spelled more like it is pronounced: Nowruz.
It is now an official holiday in Kazakhstan.
Better yet, it is now officially celebrated over FOUR days, from March 21 to March 24. This is cause for celebration. Here’s why, again from Chapter 15:
Nauryz is a happy holiday, the symbolic start of a new year. Nauryz also ushers in the “new year” in relationships. Debts are paid and family members or neighbors who have fought during the year, reconcile.
Four officially happy days.
We could use a little Nowruz in this country, don’t you think?
How about you? Who would you reconcile with? Which debt would you pay back? How would you start anew?
Next week: my Chincoteague “Ladies-In-Writing” retreat recap.