Nowruz is the holiday for March. I've only discovered it in the last few years, so it is a more recent addition. Nowruz began as the Zoroastrian New Year, and is still celebrated by Zoroastrians, most of whom live in Iran and India, as I recall. I plan to do another post in the next few days on Zoroastriansim.
Nowruz is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. We use this holiday to talk about Zoroastrianism, and also Central Asia (as if Central Asia didn't already come up enough).
It is begins on the first day of Spring, so it's usually on March 21st, but can be on the 20th or 22nd. According to my astronomy book, the vernal equinox is on March 20th, 2005 at 12:34 Universal Time. The festival lasts for 13 days.
By the way, Persian is entirely unrelated to Arabic (although it has many words borrowed from Arabic, and vice versa), since Arabic is Semitic (Afro-Asiatic) and Persian is Indo-European.
Several weeks before Nowruz begins people clean their homes, buy new clothes, and start their sprouts and other food. Nowruz is a big holiday, similar to Christmas here. It's also interesting to note that people of a variety of religions celebrate Nowruz.
On the last Wednesday before Nowruz, called Shabe Chahar Shanbeh Suri (that would be the 16th this year), people gather with their neighbors or families to build a fire (fire is an important part of Zoroastrianism). The flames represent good, so they jump over the flames to get rid of bad luck. While jumping over the flames, they sing, "Sorkhiyeh to az man, zardieh man az to," which means, "Give me your healthy red glow and take away my yellow color." After jumping over the fire, children knock on doors to collect treats.
At the official announcement of the beginning of Spring (this would be at 7:34 AM Eastern on the 20th), the family sits around the haft-sin table. There are 7 different foods on the table, all of which begins with the sound "s:"
Sabzah- lentil or wheat sprouts (sprouts are easy to do at home)- represents rebirth
Samanu- wheat germ or sprouted wheat pudding- represents holiness
Seeb- apples represent health and beauty
Sinjid- dried lotus fruit, symbolizing love
Sir- garlic, which represents health
Somagh- sumac berries (I've never had much luck finding sumac in Idaho stores), which represent the victory of good over evil
Serkeh- Vinegar, representing old age
I am assuming that Central Asians use these same symbolic foods, even though these don't all start with "s" in those languages. Anybody know? They also might put a holy book, like the Qur'an on the table, or a book of poetry. Coins (wealth), hyacinth and tulips (Spring), painted eggs (fertility), a mirror (reflection of life) , candles (happiness), goldfish (life), and/or an orange floating in a bowl (Earth in space) might also be included.
The family eats fish, rice, and noodles at this meal. (There is a good recipe for the rice, called sabzi pilau, in Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid or go down on this page to find several good recipes.)
From the beginning of Nowruz to the 12th day, people visit their families, with younger people visiting their older relatives first. The 13th day of Nowruz, Sizdeh bedar, is a day for a picnic, since it is unlucky to stay inside. They throw the sprouts from the haft-sin table in running water, to get rid of any bad luck from the home. They also might eat a noodle soup (there's a recipe for a noodle soup in Najmieh Batmanglij's link below).
Most of the websites about Nowruz (there are a number of spelling variations) call it the Persian New Year.
Zoroastrian site for kids
Nowruz traditions- this is a good site with lots of different information
Site with many links to Nowruz information
A recipe and a project
Persian recipes from Najmieh Batmanglij (she has some very good cookbooks)
Recipe for Kukuye Sabzi