Newroz is a new year celebration which welcomes spring and new life. It is celebrated across faiths and borders in the middle east. As a Kurd growing up in the UK, Newroz was always a very special time in our family. In preparation for this special day we would spring clean, decorate our home, we had new clothes and special food prepared. The smell of kulicha would fill our home the night before Newroz! We would call all our family and friends around the world and wish each other Newroz Piroz. Music and good food were always a vital part of our celebrations, followed by lots of family visits and attending a Newroz party within the Kurdish community!
But, these celebrations are nothing compared to how we celebrate in Kurdistan. I miss the smell of nergis flowers in the air, I miss seeing everyone in colourful Kurdish attire on Newroz day. Even strangers wish you a happy Newroz as they walk past. I miss kissing my grandparents hands and wishing them a happy Newroz.
It is now more important than ever to emphasise the importance of Newroz within our families and especially for our children. Living in diaspora, we are exposed to festivities from various cultures and religion. However, Newroz isn’t celebrated by the general public as it is in Kurdistan, so this celebration should have a big presence in our lives and our children’s memories. I have learnt Newroz traditions from my parents which I must carry forward even though I live away from my beloved Kurdistan. My children are from a mixed heritage, and this makes it even more important that they recognise Newroz and feel excited as it approaches every year. I want them to practice, understand and share the celebration of Newroz proudly!
This year we started to speak about Newroz a few weeks in advance and the children started to ask questions and asked for a bunch of nergis flowers. Just that request made me feel emotional; they already associate nergis flowers with Newroz!
This year; the week before Newroz, the bedtime stories for them were about the history of Newroz and my memories of Newroz in Kurdistan. When the special day finally arrived; unfortunately, it is not a public holiday for us, so before school and work, we all woke to a decorated home, presents and a special breakfast! I made a ‘Newroz Piroz’ cake for my eldest daughter to share with her classmates, and her class spent the day learning about Newroz! As a Kurdish Mother, the recognition her teachers gave to this festivity was a relief and important. In the evening, we all enjoyed our family favourite cake, some dancing and music and sharing of presents.
As I watched my children’s joy when saying newroz piroz on the phone to family members, I felt deeply nostalgic. I missed my childhood when I didn’t have to plan and worry about how to celebrate this festivity. I wished my children could be amongst the mountains in Kurdistan dancing hand in hand with their friends and dressed in beautiful sparkly Krasi Kurdi. But I was also relieved and comforted from seeing them so happy and excited! They told me to keep up the decorations, and we are due to attend a Newroz party on Mother’s day, so what better way for me as a Kurdish mother to celebrate mother’s day, than to go and enjoy myself surrounded by other Kurds!
The 5 things we do every Newroz, which begin to excite our children for the arrival of Newroz:
1) Decorate our home, wear new clothes and share presents
2) Bake special sweet treats with my children
3) Henna designs and face paint for myself and daughters
4) Kurdish food and Kurdish music within our home
5) Retell the history and meaning of Newroz
Regardless of the distance from Kurdistan and from Kurdish family and friends, I will always carry forward our Newroz traditions and customs. It tells the story of our ancient rooted history; it enables my children to know where they come from and how we got here, and to embed these roots into their lives and hearts. I hope they will continue to appreciate, celebrate and share the celebration of Newroz in their lives and future homes.
I hope you enjoyed celebrating Newroz this year. I wish for you a prosperous, joyful and beautiful new year surrounded by your loved ones to take you into next Newroz!