March 21, 2017: If you saw any people leaping over fires, grilling fragrant kebabs or holding elaborate picnics this weekend, you may have witnessed celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the start of spring across large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia.
Nowruz is often associated with the Iranian community, but it is also popular among Afghans, among others. And though the holiday officially falls on Tuesday, March 21, this year, many Afghan immigrants and refugees in the U.S. took advantage of its proximity to the weekend and celebrated it early in community centers, hotel ballrooms, private homes — and, wherever possible, the great outdoors.
[…] In Northern Virginia, a large Nowruz celebration took place this weekend in Manassas, with nearly 80 families in attendance. Just as it would be back home, the hall was split — with one side for men and another for women — with a catered buffet of traditional Afghan foods and a band playing Afghan music. In the weeks to come, neighbors and new friends will pay each other visits at home, in lieu of the extended family visits that they would make back in Afghanistan.