Many public holidays in Iran are connected to Shi'ite holy days. However, Sunni Muslims and other religions in Iran also have their own special days. Islamic holidays follow the lunar calendar and thus occur at different times each year. Iranians also celebrate numerous national holidays, which occur on fixed dates.

The biggest event of the year for all Iranian Muslims is Ramazan (Ramadan), the month of fasting and prayer. During Ramazan, Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. People rise early to have a meal before sunrise, then gather after nightfall to break the day's fast. At the end of Ramazan the Eide-Fetr feast, a joyous occasion for attending religious services, visiting friends and family and exchanging gifts. Other important Muslim celebrations include Mohammed's birthday and the Feast of the Sacrifice, which commemorates the prophet Abraham. Shi'ite Muslims also observe numerous mourning days for imams and their families. Ashura, which marks the day of the martyrdom of Hossein, the third Shi'ite imam, is observed with processions, banners, religious theatre and music.

A major national holiday in Iran is No Ruz (New Year's), a festival that predates Islam. Beginning on March 21, celebrations last for 13 days, although businesses close for only five days. Many traditions are associated with No Ruz, including spring cleaning of homes, special meals and table settings, staying out of the house on the 13th day and, in particular, the No Ruz bonfires. On the Wednesday before New Year's, Iranians ensure luck and good health by leaping over fires. This practise of gaining strength from fire goes back thousands of years to Zoroastrianism and had led to criticism from mullahs (clergymen). However, the ritual is still very popular.

For Kurds, the bonfires have a special significance: they recall the mythical Kurdish hero Kawa, the blacksmith who freed the Kurds from a tyrant. When Kurds light fires in their streets and on their mountain tops, they are renewing their sense of themselves as a special people.

February 11 Victory of the Islamic Revolution
March 20 Day of Oil Industry Nationalization
March 21-25 No Ruz, Iranian New year
April 1 Islamic Republic Day

  Did you know?
In the No Ruz tradition of haft seen or the Seven S's, people set their table with seven articles whose names in Farsi begin with the letter s. The items include seeds, apples, garlic, vinegar, a gold coin and a bowl with a goldfish inside.

  Did you know?
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims give a small gift of money, called the Fetrich, to the poor.