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Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is also referred to as the "Persian New Year". Nowruz is celebrated and observed principally in Iran and has spread in many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia, Caucasus, Northwestern China, the Crimea and some groups in the Balkans. In Iran, Nowruz is an official holiday lasting for 13 days during which most national functions including schools are off and festivities take place. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, it is also celebrated in parts of the South Asian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals. Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufis, Bektashis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith. (via Freebase)