"'Now-rooz literally means “New Day” in Persian, and the festival marks the beginning of the solar year and new year on the Iranian calendar, as well as among several other nationalities.This year, Now-rooz falls on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 with the following day, the Vernal Equinox, being the first day of the Persian New Year. Nine countries celebrate Persian New Year or Now-rooz nationally: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Albania, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Now-rooz traditionally celebrates the awakening of nature, and even the triumph of good over the oppressive darkness of winter. It is a time to celebrate life at the time when life begins or is renewed for much of that which is on the earth. The new year is marked at the instant the sun leaves the astrological sign of Pisces and enters that of Aries. This renewal of nature is the essence of this millennial-old tradition. Originally held as a spring festival, it is believed to have been first acknowledged and named “Now-rooz” by the mythical Persian emperor Jamshid from Achaemenid Dynasty (500 BC).
Others credit the Achaemenian dynasty of the 12th century B.C. for institutionalizing the Now-rooz festival. The spirit and significance of the holiday has often made Now-rooz a target for foreign invaders and anti-nationalist forces throughout the history of Persians. Alexander the Great and the Arab conquerors a thousand years later tried to eliminate the holiday. The Soviet Union banned it in Central Asia and Azerbaijan, as it was considered a nationalist or Islamic holiday. The celebration was banned in Kurdish sections of Turkey, though, for the last few years, Turkish officials have allowed some festivities. The Taliban banned Now-rooz in Afghanistan until they were overthrown in 2001. Even in Iran, the birthplace of the tradition, some conservatives favored banning it just after the 1979 revolution, but public opposition was strong and the ban proved impossible to enforce."