Iraqi Kurdish people carrying torches up a mountain in the Iraqi town of Akra on Tuesday, in celebration of Newroz Day. The festival, held on the spring equinox, marks the arrival of spring and the new year. It is considered the most important festival in Kurdish culture. Families clean their houses thoroughly and take part in entertainment such as games, dancing, gatherings, the preparation of special foods and the reading of poetry. Fires are lit to symbolise the passing of the dark season of winter and the arrival of the season of light (spring). However, in some areas, the festival has taken on political overtones as a symbol of Kurdish freedom from oppression.