March 21, 2015

Birds singing outside the window.

There are a group of people who believe the first day of spring is on March 20, and another group that think it’s the following day, the 21st. Growing up, I always in the latter camp, mostly because we celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year and the marker of the spring, on March 21st every year.

These days, it’s clear to see that the spring actually commences on the evening of the 20th; the 21st is the first full day of spring, so both camps of belief can rest comfortably knowing that they are correct, in some way.

Today is March 21, 2015, and I am about to head home to celebrate my thirty-third Nowruz with my family. I’ve missed many religious and community festivals and holidays because of my travels or because I have been living in other cities, but for some reason, I always find myself with family on the first day of spring. It is a celebration of abundance and renewal, so it makes sense that it is spent with people who make me feel rejuvenated and blessed.

When I was younger, our local jamatkhana would organize an egg painting competition every Nowruz. The week before the big celebration, we would be split into age groups, be given a hard-boiled egg, and then encouraged to visit the stations” that all had various different kinds of art products. There was a dye station, a paint station, a glitter station, a marker station, and so much more. When we were done, our eggs would be marked with a number, and the judges would deliberate over which ones they liked best.

They announced the winners of the egg painting competition on Nowruz itself; in the 10-12 years when I participated, I didn’t win once. I never expected to win, honestly: I learned at a young age that my artistic talents were limited to singing and writing, and that the visual arts would never be my forté. What I loved doing, however, was looking through the participants’ gallery, seeing how each one had made very different and distinct decisions on how to decorate their egg. The way they adorned their egg was a reflection of what the spring, the new year, meant to them, and I was rapt by the ability to glimpse at the inner thoughts of others through these beautiful, yet small, representations of emotion.

I don’t paint eggs anymore during the Nowruz season—I did, however, make a delicious open-faced egg, avocado, and sourdough sandwich for breakfast this morning—but still think of the activity fondly. Egg painting with the community was the real marker of spring for me. While other people look to the buds on trees or the imminent arrival of sunshine interspersed with rain as the sign of the season, I think of children painting brightly-colored eggs, and proudly displaying them for everyone to see.

Last night, L and I celebrated the arrival of spring at a Mexican restaurant where they had covered the floor in sand and put beach toys on the table. It was premature, perhaps, as the temperature is still hovering around zero degrees and day trips to the beach are still far away, but the sentiment was perfect: the seasons are changing, and with it comes a new time for hopes and dreams.

This is perhaps why I love the celebration of Nowruz most of all: it is a celebration of newness, of anticipation, of excitement. It is the beginning of the new year, of the new planting season, of new life erupting from previously-dormant parts of the city. Nowruz, in its basic definition, means new day.” Today, I woke up with birds singing outside the window and an invigorated anticipation for the months ahead. This morning was the beginning of a new day, and a new outlook on the days to come.

It doesn’t matter if you celebrate the arrival of the spring on the 20th or on the 21st, because in the end, all that matters is that you embrace the new whenever it decides to come along to inspire you.

Nowruz Mubarak, everyone. I will spend the day singing along with the birds before heading home to celebrate with family. Wishing you all a day full of abundance, love, and newness, as well.