History of Nawruz
Read a detailed account on history of the festival in Encyclopædia Iranica (online edition, 2016):
NOWRUZ i. In the Pre-Islamic Period
NOWRUZ ii. In the Islamic Period
NOWRUZ iii. In the Iranian Calendar
BBC Persian's Sahar Zand visited Little Persia in London to explain how her family celebrates the Persian New Year.
Nowruz traditions vary widely, though some are relatively commonplace. Preparation for the new year includes arrangement of the Haft-sin or Haft-seen (Persian: هفتسین) table — a spread of seven items representing renewal and springtime.
Items that start with Persian letter "sin" (س):
Sabzeh (سبزه): sprouted wheat grass -- the symbol of rebirth and growth.
Samanu (سمنو): sweet wheat pudding -- the symbol of power and strength.
Senjed (سنجد): sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree -- the symbol of love.
Somāq (سماق): crushed spice of berries -- the symbol of sunrise.
Serkeh (سرکه): vinegar -- the symbol of age and patience.
Seeb (سیب): apple -- the symbol of beauty.
Seer (سیر): garlic -- the symbol of health and medicine.
Other items that start with Persian letter "س" that are sometimes included:
Sonbol (سنبل): hyacinth -- the symbol of spring's arrival.
Sekkeh (سکه): coins -- the symbol of wealth and prosperity.
Saat (ساعت): clock -- the symbol of time.
Items that don't start with "س" but they are always included:
eggs (تخممرغ رنگی): the symbol of fertility.
mirror (آینه): the symbol of self-reflection.
candle (شمع): the symbol of enlightenment.
goldfish (ماهی قرمز): the symbol of progress.
book (کتاب): the symbol of wisdom.
Other traditions include house cleaning, or shaking the house (Persian: خانه تکانی, romanized: xāne tekāni), shopping, and visiting family and friends. People start preparing for Nowruz with a major spring cleaning of their homes and by buying new clothes to wear for the New Year. During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to make short visits to the homes of family, friends and neighbors. Typically, young people will visit their elders first, and the elders return their visit later.
Learn how to cook a delicious Iranian dish, Ash-e Reshteh, with Indiana University's Navruz Student Association: