A difference between a calendar year and a solar year causes the spring equinox to come between March 19th and March 21st for those who live in the northern hemisphere. And this year, that’s today, March 20th.
The spring tradition of cleaning houses originated in countries like Iran, which starts its Nowruz celebrations on the first day of spring. Also known as the Persian New Year, Nowruz (which means ‘New Day’) is a joyous time for Iranians. Though it has its roots in Persia’s ancient Zoroastrian religion, the holiday is now observed by people of several different faiths, who celebrate with spring cleaning, bonfires, visiting friends and relatives, and following certain traditions, such as the setting up of a haft-seen table in each home. A haft-seen table is a table of seven (haft) items beginning with the letter S (seen). A special cloth is laid down onto which are placed sumac (a herb, senjed (a dried fruit), seeb (apples), sir (garlic), serkah (vinegar), samanu (a wheat pudding) and sabzeh (sprouted wheat), the last of which symbolizes the rebirth and renewal that comes with a new year. Also on this table are a mirror symbolizing reflection on the year just passed, coins for prosperity in the coming year, coloured eggs for fertility, and candles for light and happiness, as well as items that hold significance for individual families.
Nowruz is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzsta, Tajikestan, and Uzbekistan.