March 14, 2018
The spring is known for bright colors and wonderful holidays that are filled with cultural and religious traditions, including Nowruz, Holy Week, Passover, and Easter. These are widely celebrated by millions of people all over the world.
Nowruz (Nevruz) is a festival commonly recognized as the Kurdish and Persian New Year and a celebration marking the beginning of spring on March 21. Over 75 million people in multiple countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, and Turkey, will be enjoying the festivities and celebrating the New Year.
Public Nowruz (Nevruz) observances typically involve roadside bonfires in addition to large celebrations. Nowruz has political as well as social connotations, and in some recent years has been a flashpoint for spontaneous demonstrations.
Demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid political gatherings, protests, and demonstrations and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings and local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and follow local authority instructions.
Travel Advice for Nowruz
- Avoid all Nowruz-related gatherings as a standard security precaution.
- The potential presence of large crowds and attendant security measures during Nowruz gatherings are likely to cause localized travel delays. Plan journeys avoiding all such events to minimize inconvenience, and keep phones charged so that you are able to maintain communication with others.
- Demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid political gatherings, protests, and demonstrations and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings and local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and follow any directives issued by authorities.
As we say in my home, Nowruz Mubarak!
Holy Week is the week preceding Easter. In the West, it is the last week of Lent and includes Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It does not include Easter Sunday. Multiple countries, including Brazil, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, Philippines and Spain, observe this Holy Week. For pictures of some country traditions, please see, The Guardian. This year Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, March 25 and concludes on Saturday, March 31.
Passover is the major Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, and lasts seven or eight days. This year, Passover begins on Friday, March 30 and ends Saturday, April 07.
If planning travel to Israel, individuals should expect increased security in areas as tens of thousands of people are expected to visit Jerusalem, particularly the Old City’s Western Wall during the Jewish Passover holiday. Increased measures are liable to include a visible increase in police and military force personnel, as well as the closure of roads and of border crossings between Israel and the West Bank (Palestinian Territories).
Easter, also called Pascha, is a Christian holy day that celebrates the day it is believed Christ was resurrected from the dead. Easter and the holidays that are related to it do not have a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars, instead the date is determined on the lunisolar calendar, similar to the Hebrew calendar. It is celebrated by many countries and millions of people worldwide. This year, Easter will fall on Sunday, April 1.
Travel advice for Holy Week, Passover, and Easter
- Expect increased security and carry photographic identification at all times for security checkpoints and spot-checks; comply with all instructions issued by the security forces.
- Report any suspicious package or behavior to the security forces.
- Be cognizant of your surroundings. Remain alert and leave an area at the first sign of unrest.
- Exercise caution when using public transport, especially when waiting at bus stops, rail/subway stations or in other crowded public areas.
- Exercise caution in large groups. If visiting a popular attraction, try to minimize the amount of time spent there.
- Do not discuss political issues or situations with strangers, as this may provoke a hostile reaction.
- Keep your phone charged, with the appropriate amount of credit, and on you at all times. In the event of a situation that affects you, the university will be reaching out. Many times a reply is required so that we can verify your safety or arrange resources to assist you.
- Monitor emails and local news sources for security alerts on any developments in the country or area you are visiting.
As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at 215-942-8478 or UTPD at 512-471-4441.