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The ancient spring festival of Nowruz with its promise of hope and new life is currently being celebrated by millions of people around the world.

The word itself means "new day." And diverse populations from many lands – Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Central Asia, as well as the United States – mark the day with family and friends to celebrate the arrival of spring and anticipate the opportunities the new year may bring.

Millions of Americans who trace their heritage to the Middle East and Central Asia celebrate Nowruz with great enthusiasm in the United States.

Each year more and more Americans from every ethnic background gain a greater appreciation of Iran's cultural traditions through the many Nowruz festivities. In addition to traditional gatherings with family, visiting relatives, and close friends, there are numerous public celebrations across the country, including colorful and well attended parades in New York and California.

Some of America's top museums also present special programs featuring Iranian art, music and dance, celebrating one of Iran's most ancient and cherished festivals. President Barack Obama recently demonstrated America's respect for Iran's traditions when he said, "The Iranian people are a great people and Persian civilization is a great civilization."

Americans of other ethnic backgrounds, like Kurdish and Azeri Americans, also bring their own traditions to bear in celebrating Nowruz, demonstrating the cultural diversity that enriches American life.

To all those around the globe who are celebrating the great holiday of Nowruz, the United States extends its best wishes for peace and prosperity in the New Year.
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