Nowruz

Nowrūz is the name for Iranian New Year Celebration in Iranian calendar.

Nowruz or Norooz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. It has been originally a Zoroastrian holiday dating from at least 3000 years ago and always had significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians.The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together for the rituals.

Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufis and Alawits.

The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.

Spring cleaning and visiting one another

Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means 'shaking the house') is commonly performed before Nowruz. Persians and other Indo-Iranian groups (Kurds, Azarbaijanis and Balochs) start preparing for the Nowruz with a major spring-cleaning of their houses, the purchase of new clothes to wear for the new year and the purchase of flowers (in particular the hyacinth and the tulip are popular and conspicuous).

During the Nowruz holidays, people are expected to visit one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. Typically, on the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around the table, with the Haft Seen on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. Later in the day, the first house visits are paid to the most senior family members.

 

Chahārshanbe Suri

 The night before the last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by Iranians as Chahārshanbe Suri), the Iranian festival of fire. This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad); the symbolism behind the rituals are all rooted back to Zoroastrianism.

 The tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make bonfires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Zardi-ye man az (ane) to, sorkhi-ye to az (ane) man ("az-ane to" means belongs to you); This literally translates to "My yellowness is yours, your redness is mine," with the figurative message "My paleness (pain, sickness) for you (the fire), your strength (health) for me." The fire is believed to burn out all the fear (yellowness) in their subconscious or their spirit, in preparation for new year.

Haft Sīn

Haft Sîn or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz (picture above) , the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft sin table includes seven items starting with the letter 'S' or Sīn (س) in the Persian alphabet.

 The "Haft sin" items are:

  1. Mirror - symbolizing Sky
  2. Apple - symbolizing Earth
  3. Candles - symbolizing Fire
  4. Golab - rose water symbolizing Water
  5. Sabzeh - wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
  6. Goldfish - symbolizing Animals
  7. Painted Eggs - symbolizing Humans and Fertility

 Haft-Sin

 The Haft Sīn items are:

 

  • sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
  • samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
  • senjed - the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love
  • sīr - garlic - symbolizing medicine
  • sīb - apples - symbolizing beauty and health
  • somaq - sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  • serkeh - vinegar - symbolizing age and patience.

 

Other items on the table may include:

 

  • Sonbol - Hyacinth (plant)
  • Sekkeh - Coins - representative of wealth
  • traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi
  • Aajeel - dried nuts, berries and raisins
  • lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
  • a mirror (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
  • decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
  • a bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving). As an essential object of the Nowruz table, this goldfish is also "very ancient and meaningful" and with Zoroastrian connection.[71]
  • rosewater, believed to have magical cleansing powers
  • the national colours, for a patriotic touch
  • a holy book (Qur'an,) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnameh or the Divan of Hafiz)