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The traditional New Year’s Day, January 1st, happened a few months ago — so why do the world’s Baha’is celebrate New Year’s now, on the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere?
On that day — called the vernal equinox, which happens after sunset on March 19th this year — Baha’is everywhere sing, eat, dance and socialize together to celebrate the new year.
Baha’is call that celebration Naw-Ruz, which simply means “New Year” in Persian, and consider it a holy day, the Baha’i feast of hospitality and rejoicing.
“Naw-Ruz means much more than just a party — it serves as a strong reminder of the primary Baha’i principle of the oneness of all the messengers of God”
Naw-Ruz means that the annual festival of the spiritual and physical springtime has arrived. The 19-day Baha’i Fast has ended, and as the spring flowers bloom and the bushes grow green and flourishing and the birds sing in the trees, Baha’is all over the world smile and laugh and hug each other warmly.
Because the annual 19-day Baha’i Fast comes to a close on the day before Naw-Ruz, the Baha’is have prepared for the new year by practicing detachment from this material world, symbolically cleansing the detritus of the old in the same way the winter storms wash away last year’s dead leaves. Abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset every day, the Baha’i Fast has a powerful impact on those who practice it, emptying their stomachs as it fills their souls.
For the planet’s Baha’is, Naw-Ruz means much more than just a party — it serves as a strong reminder of the primary Baha’i principle of the oneness of all the messengers of God:
The Bearers of the Trust of God are made manifest unto the peoples of the earth as the Exponents of a new Cause and the Revealers of a new Message. Inasmuch as these Birds of the celestial Throne are all sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they, therefore, are regarded as one soul and the same person. For they all drink from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
So on Naw-Ruz the Baha’is acknowledge and celebrate the spiritual springtime each of the prophets and messengers brought to humanity.
Along those lines, Abdu’l-Baha explained that Naw-Ruz symbolically represents “the Day of God,” when a re-awakening of the spirit occurs and the light of a new revelation shines equally upon the entirety of God’s creation:
Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb. The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jasmine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver. – Baha’i World Faith
Welcome to Naw-Ruz — and Happy New Year!