Iraq — Festivals and Events
In addition to Islamic-based festivals and traditions, Iraq also celebrates a number of cultural events and religious holidays. Christmas festivities are enjoyed by the small Christian population that remained in the country after the 2003 Iraq War, while art and other forms of expression are widely observed throughout the country.
Assyrian New Year
The Assyrian New Year takes place every year on April 1 in all countries where Assyrians reside. Marked by festivities, the day is celebrated with long parades in colorful outfits and ancient costumes. Students, dignitaries, men, and women alike join in the parties, dancing in the streets and parks for hours. Just like the rest of the world, Iraqis also celebrated the Georgian calendar New Year on January 1.
Iraq Short Film Festival
Established in 2005, the Iraq Short Film Festival celebrates movies made by and for Iraqis. A series of short films are shown in the Arabic or Kurdish language throughout Baghdad. The event is held August 1 through September 30.
Babylon International Festival
Held once a year, the Babylon International Festival encompasses all aspects of arts and music. The event represents different cultures and civilizations, celebrating science and culture through folkloric ensembles, singing, musicals, stage performances, seminars, workshops, and other activities. Its main goal is to preserve ancient traditions by passing them on to the younger generations. The annual event takes place September 22 through October 1.
Christmas Day (December 25) is celebrated differently in Iraq than in the west, observed by the few remaining Christians in the country. The day is marked with a ceremonial reading of the nativity story from the Arabic Bible. During the reading, family members hold lighted candles as they listen, and once the story is finished, a bonfire is lighted using the candles and a pile of dried thorns in the courtyard, symbolic of the future of the household in the coming year. Once the thorns have completely turned to ashes, family members jump over the remnants and make a wish. Religious services are also held in local churches, followed by processionals.
Throughout the year, Iraqis celebrate historical milestones like Army Day (January 6), Baghdad Liberation Day (April 9), Republic Day (July 14), Ceasefire Day or End of Iran-Iraq War (August 8), and Iraqi Independence Day (October 3).