April First, Assyrian New Year
Though their interpretation of the creator, the meaning of life, death and the destiny of man are different than ours, it was their search for answers, which led to the religious beliefs of today. In their attempt to find god they searched the heavens, tracking the movements of stars and the planets to learn the secrets of the universe. The Assyrian New Year celebrations started on the first day of Nesan (April), the month of the spring. It was based on the belief that this was the time when the act of creation happened. The beginning of spring was the day of a major civic and religious celebration for the ancient Assyrians.
This festival was celebrated for 12 days. The tablets discovered and deciphered by the archaeologists explain the festivities celebrated in those days. In Assyria this festival was the most important event on the year. People from all over the Empire came to either the political capital, Nineveh or the religious capital, Babylon and participated in the celebration. There were elaborate and magnificent processions to and from the great temple in Babylon called “Esagila”.
Before the Assyrian embraced Christianity in the first century A.D., the new year was celebrated on what would be our 21st of March according to the ancient calendar. This date then and as it does now is the very beginning of Spring. Centuries before the fall of the Assyrian Empire in 612 BC. When its power and civilization spread all over the Middle East. Other nations like Medes, Persians and Arabs celebrated the 21st of March as the New Year for all the ancient world.
After the Assyrians converted to Christianity in the first century and the Gregorian calendar was established in the Christian world, the Assyrian also accepted the new calendar and they moved their new year from March 21st to April 1st. Iranians and the people of Iraq (Arabs, Assyrians and Kurds) today celebrate this day on March 21st. In Iran the New Year’s Day is called “Nowruz” meaning “New Day”.
This day was designated as the official national day for Assyrians all over the world by the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) in 1968. It is the beginning of Spring when nature wakes up from the winter sleep, and the trees, plants, fields and flowers begin to bloom again. This means regaining new life to which the Assyrian forefathers gave a great credit in their philosophy of creation. Revival and rising from death played a big role in their mythology.
Assyrian New Year is the most important national festival handed down thru history from the remote past. The Assyrians of today all over the world celebrate this day as their national festival by holding parades and parties. They also gather in clubs and social institutions and listen to the poets who recite the story of creation and have a good time. It is the most important national festival handed down thru history from the remote past.
In Sydney, the Assyrian Australian National Federation (AANF) hosts one of the most successful Assyrian New Year Festivals throughout the world, with the assistance of Assyrian National Council - Australia. Thousands of people were in attendance at Fairfield showground to celebrate the Assyrian culture. The Festival started at 10:00 am and the music and dancing continued till the 10:00 pm close.