Nowruz Persian New Year
Each year beginning in February, my Persian friends prepare to celebrate one of the most important holidays of the year. Nowruz is a traditional celebration of the Persian New Year celebrated as far back as 555 BC. Nowruz translates to “New Day” and was created to mark the beginning of spring. Nowruz is celebrated in many countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and India and others. Every year, an estimated 190 million people across the world celebrate Nowruz, which is more of a secular holiday than it is a religious one. The holiday usually falls on March 21st, and the celebrations begin at the exact moment of the spring equinox when the sun passes above the equator, or when night and day are the same lengths. Nowruz marks the first day of the Persian calendar.
One of the most significant traditions that Persians follow during this special season is setting up a Nowruz table called Haft-seen. This symbolic table includes seven objects that begin with the letter “S” because seven is considered a lucky number in Iran. Although other countries may celebrate this tradition differently, in Iran a typical Nowruz table might include these items:
- Sabzeh: A dish of wheat or lentils to represent rebirth.
- Samanu: An Iranian sweet paste made from germinated wheat representing the renewal of Nature.
- Seeb: Apple which represents health and beauty
- Senjeb: The fruit of the lotus tree representing love.
- Seer: Fresh garlic bulbs to represent medicine or good health.
- Somaq: A Persian spice representing sunrise and light overcoming darkness
- Serkeh: Vinegar representing age and patience
Preparing for Nowruz begins long before the holiday begins, starting with the spring cleaning of a home. This tradition is called “Khoneh Takooni” in Farsi and translates to “Shaking of the house.” Other Nowruz traditions include:
- Shopping for new clothes to celebrate Nowruz so they can look their best for the new year
- Painting eggs, which represents fertility
- The Persian festival of fire called Chaharshanbe Suri celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz. The celebration begins in the evening where people make bonfires and jump over them, representing purification and letting go of sickness for good health.
Nowruz Mubarak - Happy Nowruz
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