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Nowruz (Iranian New Year)

Iran has had many celebrations and that is why Iranians have been a happy nation since the ancient times; in fact, they have had at least one festival at each month, as they liked to take every opportunity to have parties and celebrations and they gathered together during these celebrations. Furthermore, Iranian nation are in love with happiness and fond of music, and on the celebration day, all people help each other and wear new and colorful clothes. Iranians are very friendly people and this is also identified in their celebrations. Persian nation has beautiful formal and fantastic informal celebrations which are also national including Nowruz Celebration (New Year), Chaharshanbe Souri celebration, Yalda Night celebration, Sepandarmazdgan (Persian Valentine) celebration, Golab Giri (Taking Rosewater), etc.. We are going to make you familiar with the most prominent Persian celebration since ancient times which is the New Year celebration.

Nowruz: One of the most ancient Iranian celebrations is Nowruz. It is an event beginning on the first day of spring (21st of March); furthermore, it shows the rebirth of nature when families meet each other to celebrate. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians. The name comes from Avesta meaning “new day/daylight”; in fact, Nowruz is celebrated by Iranians in the Middle East and worldwide. It is a public holiday in Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Albania, Kosovo, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Nowruz holiday is believed to have been invented by Zoroastar, the prophet of the religion and ancient philosophy of Zoroastrianism. It emphasizes the broad concept and differences of “good” and “evil”. Believers should be connected to nature and animals, and always respect the element of fire as it shows the victory of goodness over badness.

Below is a description of different and attractive sides of Nowruz:

Haji Firouz: This figure who is known as the “Santa Claus” of this holiday, has been referred to as the Zoroastrian fire keeper; but his face and hands are painted black to indicate soot from the fire. He wears a red cloak and a red felt hat, sings songs in New Year and gives gifts to all the children and people who are celebrating. He plays his happy and traditional songs loudly, brings enjoyment to the Nowruz celebration.

New Year Resolution: Iranians, like many other nations, promise to themselves to start their new year by forgetting, abandoning or disposing of old, unwanted things and habits or beginning the New Year by getting used to new and agreeably useful habits; in fact, Iranians have their resolutions set or make firm decisions to quit bad habits and start new and good behaviors.

Learn about New Year Welcoming and Visiting: Iranians believe that with the coming of the new year all the past unwanted things should be disposed of and forgotten. During this time of year, to put it more exactly, before the start of the new year, Iranians get prepared for the occasion by cleaning their homes, getting ready for guests to come over. Hosts greet their guests by kissing one another on the cheek in gratitude and give the New Year greeting, “Nowruz Mobarak!” Meaning Happy New Day or Happy New Year.

Shopping: One of the most fascinating things before this ceremony is shopping new clothes; as a matter of fact, if you come to Iran before this Iranian ceremony, you can see all families who go out for family shopping and buying new things related to Nowruz celebration such as new dresses, shoes and gifts. They also buy red fish for their Haft Sean Table.

Haft Sean Table: Traditionally Iranians gather around a “Haft-Sean Table” (Seven things whose fist letters start with “S” letter) which is the traditional table set to bring fortune in the New Year and welcome the new beginnings of spring.

Sabzeh (grass): Iranian women or those in the family who have a green thumb usually take the responsibility of growing wheat, barley, lentils or beans in a dish in middle of March. They grow Sabzeh (grass) whose green appearance is a reminder of nature and symbolizes rebirth, renewal and growth having left behind a period of inaction in the winter.

Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat, symbolizing affluence)

Senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolizing love)

Seer which is garlic in English and symbolizes medicine and is believed to keep evil spirits and bad forecasts away as the British say an onion a day keeps doctor away and garlic has more healthful properties.

Seeb (apple, symbolizing health and beauty as it is a heavenly fruit)

Somaq (sumac, symbolizing the color of sunrise)

Vinegar (Serkeh): It is a symbol of patience and longevity because in the past, it was produced through a slow fermentation process.

Moreover, on the “Haft-Seen,” table, many people decorate colorful eggs for good luck and fertility. There may also be a goldfish in a bowl to represent new beginnings and a mirror, to always look at your reflections.

Eating during Nowruz or Nowruz Foods: The specialty cooked on the first day lunch of Nowrooz is the traditional meal of “Sabzi-Polo-Mahi,” (vegetables – rice – fish) made especially with salmon, spinach and rice. On the second day for lunch, Iranians also eat Kokousabzi which is the most delicious Iranian food and flavored with some combinations of herbs and leafy vegetables (e.g. scallions, parsley, chives, coriander, dill, spinach, lettuce, fenugreek leaves) and tinted a deep green.

Reshte polo is another food eaten in Iranian/Persian culture as noodles are symbolic of new beginnings in life. In the old times, it was believed that noodles can bring good fortune and make new endeavors successful.

Sizdah Bedar: Another customary thing to do is to take the Sabzeh (grass) from their Sofreh Haft Seen (Haft Sean Tablecloth) and then to throw them into a stream, river, or anywhere else where water flows. The action of throwing away the Sabzeh represents peace with the nature and the belief that everything belonging to the nature should return to the nature removing negativity from one’s home. It is believed that the Sabzeh that is placed on the Sofreh Haft Sean will collect all that is negative, bad and ill in the household during its time of growth; furthermore, young single girls tie knots with Sabzeh and make a wish to find a good husband in the coming year just before throwing it out. Some also make a wish by simply tying a knot in regular grass. As result, all Iranian people are happy and dance and sing in spring in Iran.

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