Today, March 20th, is a day that millions of people around the world celebrate and have celebrated for thousands of years. For most people in the world, this day merely marks the start of the Spring equinox. For Persian people, who do not follow the Gregorian or Western calendar, today is NoRuz (literally meaning "new day"), the first day of the new year.
In the days leading up to this day, Persian people get ready for the new year by cleaning their homes (spring cleaning, if you will), buying new clothes, buying gifts for children, baking cookies and sweets, setting their tables with symbolic items and preparing their homes for the arrival of the many family members and guests who will visit in the upcoming days.
For the Professor and I, living far from family in a city with not many Persian people, today is just Tuesday. We woke up this morning, gave each other a kiss and wished the other a happy new year, and then proceeded to go about our lives. The Professor went to work and I'm at home getting ready to do the laundry. Of course, we did do some things to prepare for the new year. We cleaned the house and even hired a painter to finally paint our bedroom (something I've been putting off because committing to a paint scheme makes me toss and turn at night). I bought fresh flowers yesterday and even made an attempt to set up a haft-seen, which is a table decorated with seven symbolic items (green sprouts for rebirth, apples for beauty, garlic for health, etc). Other than that, our main acknowledgement of this holiday will take place tonight when we call my family on Skype and wish them a happy new year.
This feeling of missing out is something we need to get accustomed to as it is just the reality of being an expat. Sometimes you miss a major holiday that you would have celebrated in your native country while in your adoptive country you find yourself missing out on holidays that you didn't even know about (did you know yesterday, March 19th was Father's Day in Spain? Neither did we!). Over time, I suppose the Professor and I will begin incorporating Spanish holidays and celebrations into our lives just as both of our parents (all immigrants to the U.S.) incorporated Thanksgiving, Halloween and Independence Day into theirs.
Sometimes the idea of losing our holidays makes me a little sad. It's weird to think that I might wake up one day and think, "Hmm... October 31st. Why is this day important again?" But, as the Professor likes to remind me, instead of losing our American holidays we can just celebrate them anyway in addition to all the Spanish ones. Which means that now we'll have twice as many things to celebrate over the year. Just imagine! Two Valentine's Days and two Mother's Days! That's twice as much chocolate and flowers! Ah, the Professor. He knows how to get me every time.