Newroz Celebrations, Erbil

Newroz (meaning ‘new day’ in Kurdish) is a celebration to welcome the first day of spring, which occurs each year around 21st March.

Newroz celebrates the end of a cold, dark winter in the mountains of Kurdistan, as the spring brings warmth and new life, re-awakening the agricultural cycle of cultivating, planting and harvesting. Bonfires are lit on the peaks of mountains and folk music and dances are performed in bright, colourful national costume, throughout the Kurdish region and neighbouring countries.

In Kurdish legend, the holiday celebrates the deliverance of the Kurds from the Assyrian tyrant Dehak in 612 B.C, and it is seen as an important expression of Kurdish identity and solidarity, as well as a celebration of victory for the people over their oppressors.

For many years, Kurds who had fled persecution continued to celebrate Newroz as refugees in Europe and North America. Many have returned now to Kurdistan, and for a young generation, celebrating Newroz ‘at home’ is a new experience.