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If you are living in the west, it is most likely you are thinking about the New Year’s resolution when the New Year approaches. In Afghanistan, it is quite a different story; there are no resolutions, celebrations, or even holidays when it is January 1st, and that is because they use a different calendar. In Afghan calendar, called Hejri Shamsi, it is the year 1391. The first month of the Hijre Shamsi year is Hamal. The first of Hamal is a holiday and is celebrated all over Afghanistan. This holiday is called Now-ruz (نوروز) which literally means “The New Day”. The Afghan New Year usually coincides with the 21st of March in the Christian calendar.
In Afghanistan the New Year’s first day, Now-ruz, is also the first day of spring; therefore, Afghans considers Nowruz a symbol of hope, and new and fresh life. The wild tulips and other plants start to bloom at this time of the year. Every year, there is a traditional celebration called the Red Flower Festival “Maila e Gule Surkh”
In Afghanistan, another custom on Nowruze is preparing Haft-maiwa which literally means, “seven fruits”. It is a mixture of seven kinds of dried fruits soaked in water for one, or a couple of nights and then severed on the New year’s day. The fruit soaked usually include walnuts Char-Maghz چهار مغز , almonds Badaam بادام , dates Khurma خرما raisins Keshmesh کشمش pistachio Pista پسته ,and prune Keshta کشته . After being mixed and soaked together for a night or two the fruits are served along with their flavorful syrup on the new year’s day. If you happen to visit an Afghan family on the New Year’s Day, you will get to try this tasty treat.
Families and groups of friends go on picnics to places with lots of flowers and green fields. In some cities, there are specific places that people go to for a picnic. In these picnic places, you would see groups of young men with huge stereos speakers playing music and dancing to the music, or sometimes you will even see live music instruments played at the site.
The famous food for Nowroz is fish Mahi ماهی and Jelabi (a kind of dessert) جلبی. According to the Afghan customs, the man or the family of the man who is engaged has to visit the family of the fiancée and buy them fish and Jelabi and gifts for the fiancée.