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Central Asia Rings in the New Year By Jumping, Repeatedly, Over Giant Fires

The start of spring comes with its own set of traditions.


It goes by many names, but Novruz is celebrated throughout Central Asia as the official start of the new year. Every March, people from Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Khazakstan and Tajikistan (among other countries) herald in the start of spring by leaping over fires, exchanging small patches of grass, and generally having a good time.

Below, celebrations in Tehran, Almaty, and Turkey:

Demonstrators attend a gathering to celebrate Newroz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. Newroz, which means "new day" in Kurdish, marks the arrival of spring and is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Tajikistan. Newroz has long served as a rallying cry for Kurdish nationalism and public celebrations were illegal in Turkey until 2000, when fighting between security forces and separatist guerrillas fell sharply. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)
A vendor prepares to grill fish for residents on Newroz Day, a festival marking spring, in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad, March 21, 2011. Newroz Day is also celebrated in other countries including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. (Atef Hassan/Reuters)

A woman buys a potted plant during New Year shopping on a street near a bazaar in northern Tehran. Iranians celebrate their New Year on Saturday. The Iranian New Year Day marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually falls between March 20 to March 22. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)
Artists perform during Navruz celebration in Almaty. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)


About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.