Yesterday was the first day of spring, also called the March equinox, but to Iranians all over the world, it was Nowrūz, the Persian New Year Festival.
In 2010 the UN’s General Assembly recognized March 21 as the International Day of Nowruz.
Since that is today, so I’m going to teach you a little about this festival celebrated the world over, including parts of Central Asia, Caucasus, South Asia, Northwestern China, the Crimea, by some groups in the Balkans, and of course in Iran, the US, and Canada.
According to Wikipedia:
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in parts of the South Asian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.
One of the ways that Nowruz is celebrated is to have a Haft Sin (or seven s’s) traditional table in your home. This table includes seven specific items starting with the letter ‘S’ or Sīn (س) in the Persian alphabet. Items include:
- 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.
Another way that Nowruz is celebrated is to spring clean, a few days before. This is called Khouneh Tekouni, literally means ‘shaking the house’ or ‘complete cleaning of the house’. And we did exactly that this last weekend, when we scrubbed our kitchen from top to bottom to get ready for some special visitors, yet another way to celebrate.
Check out these A Crafty Arab Nowruz handmade cards to give out to friends.
So to all my Iranian friends, سال نو مبارک, (‘sale’noʊ moba’ræk) which is Happy New Year!