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Haft Seen (Photo : Katzenfee50 from Pixabay)

Introduction to Nowruz

Nowruz is my favorite time of the year. It is the start of spring and a time of birth and new beginning. More than 300 million people celebrate Persian New Year all around the world and they call it Nowruz.

Nowruz is a Persian New Year and the most important festival celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and the autonomous Kurdistan of Iraq, Kurdish regions of Turkey and Syria, Parsis of India and throughout Central Asia.

Traditional Iranian festival (Photo:irantourismnews)

Nowruz is usually on the 20th or 21st of March of every year. It begins when the season changes from winter to spring on the vernal equinox, which is why Nowruz is almost exactly the same time each year.

Nowruz is a combination of two Persian words. The first word “now” means new, and the second word “ruz” means day, so together, they mean “New Day.” Since Nowruz is the first day of spring, it recognizes the link between nature and humans.

Crown imperial or Kaiser’s crown is a species of flowering plant. It is native to a wide stretch from Anatolia across the plateau of Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills (Photo: plantwerkz)

Rituals and Traditions

Nowruz is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next year. They are thankful for the year that passed and make wishes for the year ahead.

Children have a fourteen-day vacation from school for celebration, also Universities are off for 14 days. And most adults do not work during the Nowruz festivities.

During the holiday, friends and family gather at each other’s houses for parties, dinners, conversation and play games to make memories of each year.

Traditional Dress (Photo:amordadnews)
Gilaki Dress: Gilk’s people’s clothing is a symphony of colors and brings energy and vitality. This dress has a long history in addition to its eye-catching colors. (Photo:irdeserts)

Tahvil: The Exact Moment of the New Year

Right after the moment of Nowruz and welcoming the start of spring, the family members and friends say well-wishes such as “Happy New Year” or “Sal-e No Mobarak!” in Persian. It is enjoyable moment for kids to collect their “Eydi,” which is the “New Money,” as a gift from their parents and other relatives. The older members of each family distributes special sweets and candies to everyone. It is also traditional for families and neighbours to visit each other and exchange special gifts.

7 Sin: Haft-sin or Haft-seen is an arrangement of seven symbolic items whose names start with the letter “س” pronounced as “seen” the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet; haft is Persian for seven. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Haft-Seen Table: The Table of Seven S’s

7 Sin is the center of the celebration. It is a table that is called Sofreh haft-seen. People usually set and design it a few hours before the beginning of the new year. All family members spend the last moments of the year and sit around the 7 sin and wishing for the great year and pray. People tend to dress in their new clothes and dresses because they believe they should be well-dressed and well-prepared for the new year.

The Sofreh haft-seen has seven items which symbolized seven items which have the concept in Persian culture:

Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): For rebirth and renewal of nature
Seeb (apples): For health and beauty
Sumac (crushed spice of berries): For the sunrise and the spice of life
Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree): For love and affection
Serkeh (vinegar): For patience and age
Sir (garlic): For good health
Samanu (wheat pudding): For fertility and the sweetness of life

In addition to these S items, there are other symbolic items that go on the haft-seen table, depending on the tradition of each family.

  • It is customary to place a mirror on the table to symbolize reflection on the past year
  • An orange in a bowl of water to symbolize the Earth
  • A bowl of real goldfish to symbolize new life and movement
  • Coloured eggs to represent fertility
  • Coins for prosperity in the New Year
  • Special flowers called hyacinths to symbolize spring and candles to radiate light and happiness and sweets for spreading the sweetness

Every family places other items which are special to them, for example, the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, or books of Hafez, the Persian poet.

Special Foods of Nowruz

Different special foods are prepared during Nowruz, like other cultural celebrations depending on the country of origin. One of the famous dishes is called Sabzi Pollo Mahi (fish served with special rice mixed with green herbs). The rice is made with many green herbs and spices which represents the greenness of nature in spring.

 Sabzi polow :Sabzi polow (herbed rice) and crispy pan fried mahi (fish) is one of the main traditional meals for Nowruz – Persian New Year. ( Photo: turmericsaffron)

Another Nowruz dish called ash-e resteh or noodle soup is typically served on the first day of Nowruz. This soup is special because the knots of noodles symbolize the many possibilities in one’s life, and it is thought that untangling the noodles will bring good fortune.

Ash reshteh(Photo: emersun)

Special sweets are also served during Nowruz. Traditional items include naan berengi (cookies made from rice flour); baqlava (flaky pastry sweetened with rosewater); and noghl (sugar-coated almonds). 

Naan berengi (Photo: Google)
Baqlava: Baklava is traditional Mediterranean treat using phyllo dough. The filling varies from ground walnuts to almonds or pistachios. Greeks use a honey syrup to sweeten their baklava while the Persians use a rose water syrup. (Photo:irangazette)
Nan-e Nokhodchi: Persian chickpea cookie or Nan-e Nokhodchi is originally from Qazvin. However, it has found its way to other cities and become one of the most favourite sweets for all Iranians. (Photo:persianfoodtours)

نوروز باستانی رو به تمام پارسی زبانان  دنیا شاد باش می گویم

Happy Nowruz from me, Ainaz Akhavanbolourchian!

My last Nowruz in Iran. (Nowruz 2019)

Reference: Michael J., Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

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