In Central Asia and Iran, this past weekend brought the celebration of Nowruz. Nowruz is the time when Persians and Central Asians have traditionally celebrated the New Year – on the first day of Spring. Having lived in Central Asia for 15 years, I know that this is one of the most important holidays that is celebrated there – and it has become one of my favorite holidays as well.
There are a couple of things that I love about Nowruz. One is, to be blunt, Spring is a much better time to celebrate a New Year than in the dead of winter. Nothing is new on January 1. Everything is cold. The days are short. It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get home. There is very little light and very little life. Dead – not new.
But on the first day of Spring, everything is new. The sun is up while I am driving to work – and it is still up when I get home. It is warm enough to go outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Birds are singing, grass is growing. Even if we get some snow in March, by the first day of Spring I don’t have to shovel my driveway. There is light and life again. In the cycle of the seasons, God reminds us that there is always hope for life and light in Him, even after the dead of winter. It feels like a New Year. I love that about Nowruz.
And I also love that Nowruz challenged my worldview. I used to think that because we celebrate the New Year on January 1 here in America, that is just how it should be – and that was the best and only time to celebrate the New Year. But Nowruz made me think. Is January 1 the best time to celebrate the New Year just because somewhere, sometime, someone made a calendar and now our culture tells us that is the New Year? Or is it better to look at how God has made the world and celebrate the newness of life that comes in Spring?
I still celebrate the New Year in January, just because it’s a tradition for us here in America. But I don’t love it nearly as much as I love Nowruz. I love getting to enjoy all of the new things that God is doing in His creation as Spring comes – the life and light of the new season. I even enjoy having to think critically about my own view of the world, and to challenge myself to see if my thinking is in line with God’s. I wonder in what other areas we as Americans could challenge our assumptions and the way we think?
May you have a Happy New Year this Spring!!!
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