One of our favorite holidays of the year, the Assyrian New Year, is just around the corner on April 1. Even today, Assyrians are still celebrating Kha b’ Nisan, the Assyrian New Year. Celebrations often, involve parades and parties. Some Assyrians wear traditional costume and dance in parks for hours. Often parties are accompanied with food, music and dance.
Here are 9 things Iraqi Christian Relief Council wants you to know about the Assyrian New Year.
1. The first official day of spring
The inhabitants of Mesopotamia celebrated the Assyrian New Year annually on the first day of Nissan (April), to honor the revival and renewal of nature. The Assyrian New Year was the original inspiration for the Kurdish and Persian celebration known today as Nowruz.
2. A party for the ancients
Assyrians have celebrated the Assyrian New Year on the first day of April since 4750 BC. The Assyrian New Year was the biggest festival in the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. Historians have learned about the ancient celebrations through cuneiform tablets. This important holiday traditionally started on March 21, which was at the time the first day of the month (Nissan), and the beginning of the New Year on the Assyrian calendar.
3. One festival, many Assyrian names
The Assyrian New Year has a few names. Kha b’ Nisan or Ha b’ Nisin, mean the “First of April”, while Resha d’Sheta translate to “Head of the year” in Assyrian. Akitu, the Akkadian name for the Assyrian New Year, is popular, too. Regardless of its name, the Assyrian New Year is a spring festival celebrated on April 1.
4. A 12 day New Year
In ancient Assyria, the New Year festival was celebrated for 12 days. Ancient artifacts such as cuneiform tablets have shown that this celebration was the most important event of the year.
5. Celebrations take many forms
Assyrians celebrate the Assyrian New Year often by holding family parties, picnics, parades, and parties. It’s not uncommon to see men and women together wearing traditional clothes and dancing in parks for hours, or families holed up in cultural centers enjoying many hours of poetry. This party is known as the Re sha d’sheta for Assyrians in Iraq and throughout the diaspora.
6. Diqna d’Nisan – The Beard of Spring
A beautiful tradition where Assyrian girls gather flowers and herbs which are then hung from the roof, known as Diqna d’ Nisan, meaning “Beard of April/Spring”. Read more about a recent Diqna d’Nissan workshop put on by the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation.
7. Clashes with dark politics
After the formation of Turkey, the Assyrian New Year along with the Nowruz were banned as public celebrations. Assyrians in Turkey were first allowed to publicly celebrate Kha b’ Nisan in 2005, after organizers received permission from the government in light of social reforms put in place for Turkey’s bid for the EU.
8. The Terminator loves Assyrian New Year, too
In 2014 California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote a letter to California’s large Assyrian community in California congratulating them on the annual celebration.
9. 2017 is freedom from ISIS
This year is the first Assyrian New Year in three years for Assyrians, Syriacs and Chaldeans in Iraq to celebrate without ISIS in their homeland in the Nineveh Plain.
We wish a happy Assyrian New Year 6767 to all friends and members of the Assyrian community!