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A reflection on celebrating Newroz while away from my beloved Kurdistan



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!


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The culture of sons vs daughters

sons vs daughters

Kurds are hailed for supporting women’s liberation and their rights to have leading roles in different aspects of society. There is a common Kurdish saying:

“Şêr şêre çi jine, çi mêre”

(A lion is a lion; whether female or male)

Common perceptions

It’s common knowledge that for one reason or another; some parents, regardless of culture or religion, favour sons over daughters. This practice has been prevailing since forever! I have heard my friends without any children say I want a son first so he can look after my daughters. Others say that a father carrying a gene which makes a son, makes him a real MAN! There’s also the view that a son is needed to carry forward the family name as daughters grow up, get married and may take on another family’s name, sentencing the father’s family name to inevitable extinction.

Another common reason is that having a girl usually means that she will incur many expenses as she grows up and will also need large dowries or wedding bills from her parents. In certain parts of the world; even till today, generation after generation, there has been a practice of female infanticide where daughters have been smothered to death as soon as they were born. On the other hand, sons are preferred because of their larger earning potential -the gender pay gap debate already feels like such a great injustice for my daughters who are far from even thinking about the career ladder.

My story

In the Kurdish community, this idea of favouring sons over daughters is prevalent. I have two daughters and I am expecting my third daughter soon, I have been told endlessly “I will pray for you to have a son, so you can stop trying”, or “I hope this time you finally have a son” and even “I’m sorry you are having another girl, you can always try again”. Each and every time, I politely replied we are happy, and blessed that we can even have children, gender doesn’t matter and thanks to God, baby girl and I are healthy and that’s our only wish – Alhamdulillah.

However, I wish I could turn around and say to them I pity them all. Any neighbour, friend or family, who feels like giving birth to a son is more important than a daughter; I am sorry for you, I am sorry you do not view your daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, future daughters and granddaughters as you view the male members of your family. I am sorry you think that anyone who tries for a child automatically wants a son. I am sorry your daughters may not receive an equal amount of love or encouragement from you throughout her life, all because of the limitations you apply to her due to your own narrow mindedness and preconceptions.

Open your mind

No fully functioning parent favours a child over another. Treating our children equally; regardless of their gender, is essential. We hand them emotional stability and support to see them face life with confidence once they know we love and believe in them. Please do not carry out the injustice of feeling disappointed towards your baby from the moment you find out that it is a girl.

If the mother of your child or whoever you know is pregnant with a baby girl, fill her with confidence and love. They will undoubtedly pass on all that positivity to their baby. They are nurturing and raising strong young ladies, women and mothers. Our daughters are not commodities to be owned, labelled, belittled and limited in life.

Do not instill in your daughter that she needs a brother to take care of her and protect her, that she has to become a stereotypical housewife, that a man has more to give than a woman, that being a woman is somewhat a support role for the man, that men are the superheroes, that a woman needs a man to save her, that all a woman is limited to is her outer physical appearance and that her only/main goal is marriage and becoming a baby making machine.


My approach

I will advocate social change so that my daughters will not face the injustice of one day entering a workplace where they are rewarded less than their male colleagues. I will raise them to challenge and question such discrimination. I will raise them to pursue and treasure education/ career and not limit themselves to just falling in love and ‘settling down’. In my experience, a man who respects and treasures your career aspirations and achievements, is the one worthy of your love and I hope our daughters see this reflected in how their fathers and mothers met and treat each other. We must readdress the balance of everything we provide to our daughters. Who knows, if we educate ourselves firstly, then our family members and their thought processes may change and they may treat equally daughters and sons. We praise female figures such as Malala Yousafzai, so let’s try to raise the next generation of awesome and strong women starting with our own daughters who are yet to be born.

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