The earliest time measure was calendar day so long as human life depended on day and night turn. In the southern countries activity of the people was connected with early morning and late evening when the air became cooler, and in the countries with gentle climate - with daytime. Besides that, economic activity of the people was connected with seasons of the year, which was divided into four periods: the 1st - from the first drop of rain till the first flowers; the 2nd - from blossoming to fruit ripeness; the 3rd - from harvest gathering till the fall of the leaves and the 4th - from the beginning of hunting till spring rains.

In process of communication the peoples dealt with different time measure systems, which needed corrections for inter actions. So, the time measure systems were under the influence of cultural contacts. It was resulted in calendars: solar, lunar, sidereal, sinodic, dragon and others. But, different peoples celebrated the New Year according to their own calendar. This discrepancy, from time to time, required to be corrected.

In Central Asia, initially the lunar calendar formed. But, by the first centuries of A.D. the New Year was celebrated twice a year: on the day of the Sun coming into Aries (March 21) and on the day of the Sun coming into Cancer (June 25). In 272 - 273 Khormuzd, a son of Shapur, took a reform, thanks to which the New Year, or otherwise the New Day - Nausard (in Sogdian), Nausardji (in Khorezmian), Nauruz (in Persian) was finally fixed on March 21. At the same time, legends relate this event to the 6th century B.C. when Zoroaster had a talk with Akhura Mazdah and Kei Khusrau floating on his throne in the air and distributing portions of happiness among the people. Therefore, the people called this day as the Day of Hope.

It is known another idea when and where this day occurred: "One day Akhriman destroyed gracious properties of the food, and the people were eating but couldn't get satisfaction; he prohibited to the winds to blow and trees dried up. The world had reached critical point and risk of destroy. The king Djamshid stopped it and turned back properties of mildness. He ordered to destroy old nauses, and from that time the tradition to destroy old nauses by this date occurred as well as to kill poison insects, harmful plants that is everything in a word "khvastra" - "demons". The God appreciated this action: diseases, anility, envy, wars and death had left the world. The God made the Earth three times as big, moved away the dirt from the earth and sins from the people. But a son of Djamshid's sister - Bivarsif killed his uncle to take his throne. And so, diseases, disasters, death, envy and violence turned back again". Two snakes came out of Bivarsif's shoulders and were eating human brains making Bivarsif-Zokhak to suffer awfully.

Before the reforms of Khormuzd the month had 30 days and divided in six five - day long periods; the New Year was being celebrated during all month, but on different days in dependence with social status of a person. The first five - day period belonged to kings, the second - to noble people, the third - to king's servants, the fourth - to valetry, the fifth - to craftsmen and merchants and the sixth - to peasants. After the reforms the New Year was definitely fixed on definite date and was celebrating once a year during six days. On the first day a king declared that he "was sitting in favour of the people" (satisfying their requests). On the second day he received dikhkan - landlords. On the third day - horsemen and mobeds (warriors from exclusive troops and clerical persons). On the fourth - members of his family (excluding sons). On the fifth - the sons and on the sixth - only persons he considered worthy to have talk with him. He got gifts and did them himself. Some of them (the most valuable) were sent to the treasury.

Islam canonized many pre - Islamic cult beliefs including Navruz, According to Beruni, by the 8th century divergence between the solar and lunar computations became so considerable that collection of kharadj, which traditionally started from the New Year, had to be collected in the period when it was impossible. This caused the correction of the calendar at the time of the caliph Mutavvakil (843 - 861).

The day of Navruz returned to the date
That Ardashir fixed,
You fixed it again on the previous point,
And before it was spatiating and floating.
You ordered to start kharadj collection on Navruz
And the people will reserve it as a good matter in memory,
They are gratitude and glorify,
And you did justice and gift worthy of thanking.
(Kasida of Al Bukhturi).

Beruni commented why Muslims respected Navruz: because "angels celebrate this day (for on this day they were created from the Fire) and prophets celebrate it (for this is a day of the Sun creation), and the kings celebrate it too (for this is the first day of time)".

One of hadiths informs: Abdallah ibn Abbas told a grandson, Abd as Samad ibn Ali: "Mukhammad, so be the peace for him, was given halva in the silver dash on account of Navruz". "What is it?" - asked the Prophet. "The great holiday of the Persians". "Yes." - the Prophet said., - "This is a day when Allah animated the thousands". "What are they?" - "They are those who left their land escaping the death, they numbered thousands! And Allah told them: "Die!" - and then animated them and returned them their souls back on the same day. He ordered the Sky and the Sky gave the rain; therefore the people usually pour water on this day". Mukhammad had eaten halva, broke the dish and gave the pieces of silver to ansars and told: "Oh, why we don't have Navruz every day!"

The ancient legend says: one day Solomon lost his wonderful ring that gave him power and lost this power. Forty days later he got his ring back and his power stabilized again. The kings came to him and birds were flying above his head. The people said: "Navruz omad!" - "New Day has come!" Solomon ordered the wind to carry him. Swallow asked Solomon to turn aside to save her birdhouse with eggs in it. Solomon did so. After flying around his lands Solomon took his seat on the throne, and the swallow brought water in its beak and sprinkled the earth before the throne, gave him locust's leg and Solomon kindly accepted this gift. Therefore on this day powerful persons heap favours upon weak and poor people, get and give gifts. There were some standards of etiquette: expensive gifts could be taken only from people of equal status and it was a bad manner to give expensive gifts to persons that are higher in range. This fact was interpreted as a claim for equality and considered a sin of pride.

The best gifts were sweats, flowers and incenses. Flowers symbolized various motions of human soul. (Beauty is a general abstract being one of God's nominations). On this day preference was given to the following flowers:
violet - a symbol of modesty;
rose - a symbol of love;
narcissus - a symbol of faithfulness;
lily - white colour of purity
tulip - a wish of the Good.

Branches of trees, cypress or fruit tree, symbolizing endurance and prosperity also were among the popular gifts. Perfume, as a sign of Devin patronage attracting good ghosts, was also a good gift". All peoples associated a bird with Soul; the cock signaling the sunrise and driving bad ghosts away, enjoyed deep respect. But on Navruz the first was the sweat-voiced nightingale glorifying Love. Besides that, on this day were practiced the rites of thanking, which provided patronage of pure elements: Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

So the holiday ritual program of Navruz included:

  1. In the morning, before the first word saying one should greet the Sunrise: looking at the sun rising provided happiness for next year.
  2. In the morning it is fine to take three spoons of sweat - honey, to smear skin with oil (vegetative) and to censer three pieces on incenses - for the health.
  3. Obligatory to satisfy all requests of family members and all dependent persons in order to stabilize social status and power.
  4. To get and give gifts as a wish of prosperity that becomes true if the gift is given "from heart" and is not too expensive for a giver.
  5. To take part in holiday ceremonies with jocose water sprinkling, jumps over fires and teetering. This is making good mood for all year.
Following this ritual program provided patronage Fire, Water, Air and Earth (food is a product of Earth and other elements).In the East poetic skills always considered to a feature of good education. On this day friends exchanged massages with kind wishes - "tarkiband" ("so be it") or "khamriyat" ("bacchic song"), and wine symbolized all elements: earth - as its fruit, water - as a liquid, fire - giving heat to soul and air - uprising over routine. Here are some examples of such massages from the texts of the Persian poet of the 12th century, Kamaletdin Ismail in free interpretation of the author.

* * *
Tulips - cups! Look, isn't it so?
On their bottoms is violet vine.
Look at narcissus - Sweet points cover it.
Lily in blossom has colour and smelt of milk,
They are spreading "baraka" around.
And cypress - free? I is a robber,
Running northward from the wind.
Fire of flowering roses!
Give quicker cool wine as a water!
Friends, am not I a Muslim?
I never refuse them!
My soul is as if nightingale in the blossoming tree,
Be it so in future and always!
* * *
Everything is quiet and peaceful
In the garden aromatic!
But bore lives there...
Birds and plants are looking at the sky
Waiting changes.
And they have come: he's appeared
And he inverted everything.
This is wind that like drunken man
Is shaking curls of basilica and tulip,
Is taking cover of the rose...
But the nightingale is glorifying
Beauty of aromatic creatures
And wind that dared to break
Primness of this assembly.

Author: Galina Dresvyanskaya