Welcome to the Traditional Nowruz Celebration!
What is Nowruz, you may ask?
Well, it literally translates to New Day, and it’s the Persian new year. It celebrates at the beginning of spring. But Nowruz is just a special celebration for Iranians?
From Afghanistan to Azerbaijan, all the way to central Asia and northern India, It is thought that nearly 190 million people celebrate Nowruz, and it dates back at least 3,000 years.
When is the Nowruz Celebration?
The celebration begins at the exact moment of the spring equinox when night and day are of equal length. It’s the day when winter changes into spring in the northern hemisphere, and it feels like a new beginning.
This usually happens on 21 March and it marks the first day of the Persian calendar. In Iran, it is followed by four days of public holidays, and schools and universities close for two weeks.
How do people prepare for Nowruz celebrated?
People start their preparation for the festivities weeks beforehand.
First, they start with khoone tekooni,’ literary meaning ‘shaking the house,’ is common in almost every household. They clean their homes from top to bottom, including carpets, windows, and curtains. Everyone in the family helps out. Anything broken is repaired or replaced and the house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year.
People prepare a special table in their homes, where they place small dishes holding seven symbolic foods and spices. In Iran, they call it HaftSeen or seven s’s, and seven is a lucky number in Iran. Although other cultures may do it differently, they put seven symbolic items on it starting with S.
Seven symbolic items on it starting with S
Sabzeh: maybe freshly grown wheat or lentils and it represents rebirth.
Samanu: is a dish that gives common fit to a new life as a sweet creamy pudding. In central Asia, they call it Sumalak and is often considered as the most important item on the table.
Seeb: means apple and represents health & beauty.
Senjed: a sweet and dried fruit of the oleaster or Russian olive which represents love.
Seer: which translates to garlic in Persian and it represents medicine and good health.
Somaq: A red spice representing sunrise and light overcoming darkness.
And finally Serkeh: which translates to vinegar – it represents age and patience.
They start painting the eggs which represent fertility as well. This is also a common tradition in Afghanistan & Azerbaijan. They wear new clothes at the HaftSeen table to look best for Nowruz.
How is it celebrated?
There are many other special traditions attached to Nowruz. Most famously the Chaharshanbe Suri the Festival of Fire which involves jumping upon bonfires on last Wednesday before Nowruz, which is believed to bring health and good luck in the new year.
Iranians spend the night of Nowruz with their family. The traditional new year dinner is white fish with rice and herbs. Many families give a money gift (called eidi) to the children to mark the new year. People often visit each other’s homes and always bring traditional gifts.
When does it end?
The festivities end on “Sizdah Bedar” the thirteenth day after Nowruz when people traditionally spend the day picnicking outside. The countryside is full of families eating, dancing, singing and enjoying the last day of the holidays.
Author: Mohamadreza Mahboubifard