Nowruz /noʊˈruːz/ or also known as Eid (meaning New Year) is a rich Iranian Culture that begins with the advent of spring. In 2010, the United Nations has formally recognized it as an International Holiday. As described in Iranian Cultures and Traditions, there are plenty of rituals before and after the arrival of Persian New Year.
People in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan celebrate Nowruz. Millions of Iranians in the world, celebrate the Nowruz holidays. In this article, we will describe some rituals and customs of Nowruz like Haji Firooz, Haft Seen, Sizdah Bedar, Ghashogh Zani, and etc.
Cleaning for the new year and buying new stuff is the basis of the Persian New Year. About one month before Nowruz, people start to clean their houses and buy new clothes and some snack like sweets, chocolate, and nuts to serve their guests who visit them.
In the last weeks of the solar year, the character Haji Firooz with a red suit comes to the streets and sings about the new year coming. He has a tambourine in his hand and with his joyful songs aim to spread happiness among people. His unique appearance gets everybody’s attention. It is believed that he helped people to burn their old stuff to renew everything, that is why his face is covered with soot. Haji Firroz goes back to Zoroastrianism when the priests sent him to town to spread that Nowruz is coming. If you go to Iran in the middle of March, you can still see Haji Firooz singing in the streets.
Charshanbe Souri is a popular festival on the last Tuesday night of the solar year. It is right before Nowruz. At night people gather together, burn the bush, jump over, and sing songs. They do it to repel evil and make the dreams come true. They believe that by singing “My yellow colour for you, your red colour for me” they can take the fire’s heat and energy and give their negative energies to fire. So ashes are considered to be ominous. There are different rituals for Charshanbe Soori described in Iranian Cultures and Traditions like Breaking the Pottery Pitcher (Kuze Shekani), Stirring the Spoons (Ghashogh Zani), and Eavesdropping.
Haft Seen (7 S’s)
Before the Nowruz, families try to prepare a table with seven plants that start with S. That is why they call it “Haft Sin” which means “7 Ss”. Each of the plants symbolize a different object like wisdom, patience, rebirth and wealth. The significant one is Sabzeh which is the symbol of energy and taking all the negative vibes around. Sabzeh is greens sprouted from wheat or lentils, it is a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Senjed is dried fruit from a lotus tree which is a symbol of love. Sib (apple) is for beauty and health. Seer (Garlic) is for medical care. Samanu (a pudding) is a symbol of fertility and wealth. The symbol of wisdom on Haft Sin is Serkeh (vinegar). Somagh (a Persian spice) is for the sunrise.
Aside from all the Haft Seen, Iranians put Quran, painted eggs, goldfish, Hafez (book of Hafez’s poems), candles and a mirror on the table. When it is close to the new year, families gather together around the table, read the Quran or Haze and wait for the new year.
Sabzi Polo ba Mahi
It is herb rice which mostly is served with white fish. Most of Iranians serve Sabzi Polo ba Mahi for the New Year day or night. People usually go to their families and celebrate it together.
Eid means new year. But Eidi has two meanings in Persian. One is for visiting family and friends and going to their houses in the new year to pay your respect. Iranians call it going to Eidi. The other is a gift or amount of money that the host gives to guests in Nowruz. If the host gives the guests money as a present, before the new year, they typically put some money in the Quran and then give money from Quran as a gift to the guest to bring all the good and wealth in the New Year for them. In these family meetings, the host mostly serves Ajil (mixed nuts), dried fruits, chocolate, sweets, and fruits for guests.
It is some mixed nuts that people put on the coffee tables to serve the guests who come to pay their respect in Nowruz. Ajil consists of pistachios, almonds, peanut, melon seeds, hazelnuts, and etc. Beside it, the host also serves dried fruits, sweets and candies, and fruits for guests.
On the last day of Nowruz holidays, Iranians go outdoors. Sizdah Bedar is on 13th day of Nowruz/ Farvardin which equals to April fools day or Aril, 2nd; it depends on the year. They take stuff outdoors for a picnic and typically play volleyball, badminton, or some other things. People barbeque chickens or Kebab and make Ash for the evening and eat a lot of junk foods, snack, and tea. They also take the Sabzeh -green sprout- out with themselves and throw it away at the end of the day mostly in a river. Some single girls believe that by knotting the sprouts, they can find a suitable spouse in the following year. So before throwing it to nature, they do so.