Newroz (also spelled Nowruz) marks the arrival of spring and new year, and is celebrated in countries that use the Persian calendar, such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The calendar takes as its start date the time when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina in 621 AD. The current Persian year is 1396. It is celebrated on or around the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere (21 March).
Newroz is an important symbol of identity for Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Kurds couldn't openly celebrate their new year in Turkey until it was legalised and co-opted as Turkish spring holiday in 2000. Celebrations today take on a political edge, with many participants wearing PKK symbols at large gatherings in cities like Diyarbakır, the biggest city in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey.
The day is a holy day for many faiths, including Zoroastrians. The festival is the most important event in the Iranian calendar and is widely celebrated in different forms across the territories of the old Persian empire, including the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. It is spelled variously as Novruzit, Novruz, Nauruz, Navruzi, Navarōjha, Nawryz, Noruz, Nuruz, Nevruz and Navruz.
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