Nowruz: Persian New Year عید نوروز

The Persian New Year,  “Nowruz (or Noruz or Norooz)” نوروز, is the first day of Spring and literally means ‘new day.’ It accompanies the time when days become longer, flowers bloom, and nature re-starts a new cycle. 

Most Iranian traditions and customs are closely connected to nature. ‘No-ruz’ in fact is not only a ‘new day’ for the mankind, but for nature as a whole. The new year in Iran carries a different feeling from what you might associate with a New Year in the Western world. 

Persians associate the new year with Spring, when the flowers are blooming and the trees are growing new leaves. In Iran, the New Year brings a refreshing sensation of light, prosperity, and peace. Eid e Norooz عید نوروز is a tradition that stems back over 3000 years and is still an important celebration (eid عید) today.

Here is a list of everything we perform in preparation for the New Year, during, and after this beautiful tradition:

Eid e Nowruz عید نوروز is celebrated for thirteen days: from the first day of Spring till the thirteenth day of the year, called “sizdah (13) be dar” سیزده بدر. 

Sizdah Bedar سیزده بدر

An old Iranian tradition, Sizdah bedarسیزده بدر   takes place on the 13th day of the year (the 13th day of the month Farvardin فروردین). On this day, people go outdoors to spend time with family and friends on a picnic. They bring with them the sprouts (sabzeh سبزه) from the Haft-Seen table. The symbolic throwing of the sabzeh into flowing water is thought to let go of past misfortune and usher in a fresh start.

Young single girls tie a knot گره with a plant (sabz.eh سبزه) and make a wish to find a husband for the coming year.

Preparation for Nowruz Persian New Year 

The preparations for “Eid e Noruz” start weeks, and sometimes months in advance.

Sabzeh سبزه (Green) and Shirini شیرینی (sweets)

One of the first common thing to prepare for the new Year is sabzeh سبزه (green).  You should do this about a month in advance, so by the time the new year comes its nice and green. You can use wheat or lentils.

Also, sweets (Shirini شیرینی) such as sohan e asal سوهان عسل are usually prepared at home as a ritual together with the family members. But people may also go shop for sweets (shirini) to offer their guests during Eid celebration. 

Shopping for Clothes

“Lebaas e Eid” لباس عید 

One of the activities that starts before Eid, is the shopping for ‘new’ clothes.  By the time of the new year, each member of the family, especially children, will have a new outfit, called ‘lebas e eid’ (new year’s clothing). They will put on their new outfits when paying visit to their families (called eid-didan.i) during this 13 day period.

 

“Khaneh Takaani Eid” خانه تکانی عید

Persian Spring Deep cleaning 

Literally meaning “shaking the house,” khaneh takaani or “Khooneh Takooni” خونه تکونی begins in the weeks leading up to Norooz. It’s very similar to the Spring deep cleaning in western traditions, only at a larger scale.

Every member of the family, even the children, participate in ‘khooneh takooni’ خونه تکونی by taking in a task.

Carpets are washed, furnitures are scrubbed, lamps are carefully dusted, closets and drawers are emptied in order to review, clean up, and throw away the old stuff.

‘khooneh takooni’ خونه تکونی is usually a fun and cooperative activity as you interact with the other family members. The result is a sparkling clean house where everything, inside and out, is in perfect order, and ready for the new year.

Preparing Sofreh haft-sin (7 S Table) سفره هفت سین

Haft.sin is a tabletop (sofreh سفره) displayed during the new year celebration. Haft.sin, literally meaning ‘seven s’, is an arrangement of sev- en symbolic items all starting with the letter s, ‘sin’ س.

These seven elements are are: sabzeh سبزه (green), sib (apple),سیر sir (garlic) ,سمنو samanu ,سماق somaagh ,سرکه serkeh (vinegar) ,سنجد senjed.

Sofreh.ye haft.sin سفره هفت سین also includes goldfish bowl, a mirror, a hyacinth flower (sonbol سنبل), coins (sekkeh سکه), a Quran, and painted eggs.

Saal Tahvil سال تحویل

Saal tahvil سال تحویل, is that special moment in Iran when families and friends gather around “sofreh.ye haft.sin” and wait for the exact time of the new year, which is when the vernal equinox occurs. Each year this occurs at a different time; but no matter what time of the day or night, loved ones stay awake and ready to share this beautidul moment.

They congratulate each other by saying ‘saal e no mobarak’ سال نو مبارک (happy new year) or ‘eid.etun mobark’  عیدتون مبارک (happy eid). Then they normally enjoy a meal, which is traditionally ‘sabzi polo ba mahi’ سبزی پلوبا ماهی, basmati rice with vegetables and fried white fish.

Eidy عیدی

Right after the new Year, children or younger adults receive their ‘eidy’ عیدی (or ‘gift of the eid’) from parents or grandpararents, etc. ٍٍEidy عیدی is customarily in form of newly printed money, but could be a regular gift as well.

Eid Didani عید دیدنی 

During the 13 day vacation of Norooz نوروز, people pay visits to their family and enjoy tea چای,  shrini شیرینی (sweets), and aagil آجیل (mixed nuts).

Typically you are supposed to start your ‘eid didani’ عید دیدنی by visiting the oldest members of the family in the first days (grandparents, oldest of the aunts and uncles). Then you go on to visit the younger relatives on the later days (cousins, younger aunts and uncles, etc).

The most exciting thing for children about عید دیدنی, (the visits in eid period) is the extra ‘eidy’s (money gifts) they will receive from their aunts or uncles on each visit. This alongside with playing with cousins and showing off their new clothes 🙂  (lebaas e eid لباس عید). At the end of the 13 day period, each child has a sum of ‘eidy money’ (pool-e eidy پول عیدی) to spend away on what they like.

‘Amu Nowruz’ عمو نوروز and ‘Haji Firuz’ حاجی فیروز

Amu Nowruz (uncle noruz) عمو نوروز and his servant Haji Firuz حاجی فیروز with his black face and tambourine, appear in the streets during the celebration of Persian new year.

These fun characters usually perform typical theatrical tales between a servant and his master. The performances of Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz are accompanied with comic songs and music, and are quite entertaining.

Amu Noruz عمو نوروز for Children has a similar effect of the counterpart Santa Claus in the West, although no gifts under the tree are involved 😉

Amu noruz is the husband of Nane Sarma, ننه سرما (mother cold) with whom he shares a traditional love story in which they can meet each other only once a year.

Charshanbeh Suri چهارشنبه سوری

Chahaar.shanbeh suri چهارشنبه سوری is another ancient Iranian ritual, which is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the year, right before the new year. Literally meaning ‘red (or fiery) Wednesday’, chahaar.shanbeh suri includes two fun activities for young- sters: jumping over bonfires, and going door to door while banging a spoon against a bowl to ask for treats. This latter tradition is known as ghashogh zan.i. قاشق زنی or ‘spoon banging’.

The ghashogh zan.i. قاشق زنی is very much like Trick-or-Treat tradition in Holloween. In Iran however, we don’t wear costumes. Instead, we hide our body and faces with ‘chador’ (large scarf) in order to not be seen or recognized.

Charshanbeh Suri

Ghashogh zani