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Often known as Persian New Year, Nowruz is a traditional Iranian festival marking the spring equinox which denotes the beginning of the New Year when the season changes, usually celebrated on 20 or 21 March each year. Nowruz (pronounced no-rooz) is a combination of two Persian words. The first word “now” means new and the second word “ruz” means day; together they mean “New Day.”
The festivities of Nowruz reflect the renewal of the Earth that occurs with the coming of spring. Activities that celebrate the arrival of Nowruz share many similarities with other spring festivals such as Easter, celebrated by Christians, and the Egyptian holiday called Sham Al-Naseem, which dates back to the time of the Pharaohs.
Nowruz is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Throughout the holiday period friends and family gather at each other’s houses for meals and conversation.
Preparing for Nowruz starts a few weeks prior to the New Year with a traditional spring cleaning of the home. On the first day of Nowruz, family members gather around a still-life tableau called HaftSeen. An iconic Nowruz custom, HaftSeen which literally means “Seven S’s”; is a display of at least seven traditional and symbolic items, all bearing names that begin with the letter “S” in Farsi.
Below are the things that you would find in a HaftSeen display and the idealized wishes they symbolize for the New Year:
Sumac (crushed spice of berries): symbolizes sunrise and the spice of life
Senjed (sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree): symbolizes love and affection
Serkeh (vinegar): symbolizes patience and age
Seeb (apples): symbolizes health and beauty
Sir (garlic): symbolizes good health
Samanu (wheat pudding): symbolizes fertility and the sweetness of life
Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): symbolizes rebirth and renewal of nature
In addition to these, there are other symbolic items that go on the HaftSeen 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, colored 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. Each family places other items on the table that are special, for example the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
The haftSeen table remains in the family home for thirteen days after the beginning of Nowruz. The thirteenth day is called Sizdeh Bedar, which literally means in Persian “getting rid of the thirteenth.” The celebrations that take place on Sizdeh Bedar are just as festive as those on the first day of Nowruz. On this day, families pack a special picnic and go to the park to enjoy food, singing and dancing with other families. It is customary to bring new sprouts, or sabzeh, grown especially for this occasion. At the park, the green blades of the sabzeh are thrown on the ground or in a nearby river or lake to symbolize the return of the plant to nature.
Celebrate the traditional festival of Nowroz with LIALI Jewellery this March!