PERSIAN NEW YEAR: Nowruz — also known as Norooz — marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Like Lunar New Year, it’s one of the many multicultural celebrations embraced by Vancouverites every year. On March 21, families will gather together to observe the occasion on the day of the astronomical equinox, the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day. In advance of the new year, members of the city’s Iranian community filed into the Sutton Place Hotel for the fourth annual Neekoo Soiree. Chaired by Saeedeh Salem, the Casino Royale-themed gala in support of student scholarships saw partygoers play games of chance before enjoying a sumptuous dinner and spirited auction. By evening’s end, a reported $90,000 was raised.