While the Chinese celebrate the lunar New Year (February 14th this year), all of the Muslim minority groups here in Xinjiang – including Uyghurs - will celebrate a festival called Noruz – also spelled Nowruz and pronounced to sound like “new rose”. Unlike the Chinese Spring Festival, Noruz marks the actual first day of spring and is celebrated on March 21st around the world, plus or minus a day due to time zone variation.
Uyghurs, Hui, Kazakh and all other Muslim minorities don’t get a day off for this holiday, but that doesn’t stop its celebration. Families and friends usually gather to take part in a big meal and watch traditional dances and songs on TV.
Outside the cities where farming is the primary profession, this holiday is also supposed to mark the first day for ploughing the fields. In the south of Xinjiang the weather usually permits this but in the north the temperature is still too cold to begin.