WASHINGTON – First lady Michelle Obama welcomed guests to the White House on a chilly Wednesday to mark Nowruz, a New Year celebration for over 300 million people worldwide to observe the beginning of spring.
This was the administration’s second Nowruz celebration. The event featured Persian cuisine and the traditional Nowruz table, known as the “Haft Seen” which includes seven items symbolizing concepts such as renewal, joy and love.
“As we celebrate this holiday and honor this tradition that is over 3,000 years old, we join families in the Middle East and in Asia, here in America, across the globe to mark both the dawning of a New Year and the arrival of spring,” Obama said.
Obama said to laughter from the audience that she hoped everyone felt a little springy, even though the temperature wasn’t reflective of the season.
“We think America is strongest when we recognize our many traditions, when we celebrate our diversity, and when we lift each other up,” Obama said. “It is so important to remember that our diversity has been, and will always be, our greatest source of strength and pride here in the United States.”
The remarks by the first lady followed a stand-up performance by Maz Jobrani, an Iranian-American comedian.
“Nowruz basically puts all of the American holidays into a two week period,” Jobrani said.
Nowruz is the New Year, giving gifts makes it like Christmas, coloring eggs adds an Easter aspect, going door-to-door for sweets makes it like Halloween, and having picnics is like Memorial Day and Labor Day, Jobrani said.
“We squeeze it all in,” Jobrani said.
The United Nation’s International Day of Nowruz is observed on March 21 each year.
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Download photos: Norwuz.zip