Happy New Year in Afghanistan

Posted on 01. Jan, 2013 by in culture

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.

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About Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.

One Response to “Happy New Year in Afghanistan”

  1. Helene 27 March 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Many thanks for your explanation of spring traditions in Afghanistan. My dear friend brought me some Haft-maiwa this week, and I was able to find the proper spelling and some more info on the tradition at your site. It was nicely written. Happy spring!
    Helene


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