Bahá'í Naw-Rúz is one of nine holy days to the Baha'i Faith, is the first day of the Bahá'í calendar, which occurs in winter equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (March 21).
Historically and currently, this is a celebration of Iranian New Year and is celebrated by countries in the Middle East and Central Asia as Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkey. In ancient times it was a national holiday in Iran and celebrated by more than one religious group.
The Báb, the forerunner of the Baha'i Faith, and then Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of this religion, adopted the day as sacred and associated with the Greatest Name of God.
The Báb, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, instituted a new calendar that was made up of 19 months, and each 19 days. Each of the months are named after an attribute of God, and similarly each of the nineteen days in the month are also named after an attribute of God.
The first day and first month were given the attribute of Bahá, an Arabic word meaning splendor or glory, and thus the first day of the year was the day of Baha in the month of Bahá. The day was called the Day of God by the Báb, and was associated with "Him Whom God shall make manifest, a messianic figure in the writings of the Bab.
The remaining eighteen days of the first month were then associated with the eighteen Letters of the Living, the apostles of the Báb, providing a celebration that lasted nineteen days.
Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Baha'i Faith who claimed to be the messianic figure expected by the Báb, adopted the new calendar and the use of Naw-Rúz as a holy day. The day following the Bahá'í month of fasting, and he explained that the Naw-Rúz was associated with the Greatest Name of God, and was established as a festival for those who observed the fast.
The notion of symbolic renewal of time in each religious dispensation was made explicit in the writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and the New Year and the calendar made this spiritual metaphor more concrete. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son and successor, explained the significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of spring and new life it brings.
He explained that the equinox is a symbol of the Manifestations of God, including Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah among others, and the message they proclaim is like a spiritual springtime, and that the Naw-Rúz is used to celebrate it.
Naw-Rúz is one of the nine Bahá'í holy days where work is suspended, the only one who is not associated with an event in the lives of the Bab or Baha'u'llah. It is usually a festive event observed with meetings for prayer, music and dance.
Since the new year also ends the Bahá'í month of fasting the celebration is often combined with a dinner. Like all Baha'i holy days, there are some rules that are observed in the Naw-Ruz, and Bahá'ís around the world celebrated as a festive day, according to local custom.
Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas defines Naw-Rúz as the Bahá'í day on which the vernal equinox occurs. As the days start at Baha'i sunrise, if the equinox occurs before the setting sun, the day with the sunset before the sun is Naw-Rúz.
So Naw-Rúz can fall between days 20, 21 and 22 March The implementation of the exact timing of Naw-Rúz for Bahá'ís around the world depends on the choice of a particular spot on earth and has been left to Universal House of Justice, the maximum body of the Baha'i Faith. Currently Naw-Rúz is set on March 21 for Bahá'ís residing in countries outside the Middle East, no matter when the equinox occurs.