Nowruz celebrates renewal and rebirth, symbolized by the coming of spring. It is partly rooted in the ancient Zoroastrian tradition, but is a joyous holiday that was celebrated thousands of years ago. The first day on the Iranian calendar falls on the March equinox, the first day of spring, around 20 March, which is Nowruz. The word Nowruz is a blend of two Persian words – “now” which means “new,” and “roz” which means “day.”
The festival of Nowruz is celebrated by many groups of people in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, but particularly by Persians and many other Iranian peoples. Zoroastrians worldwide celebrate Nowruz as the first day of the New Year. Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. Preparations for Nowruz begin in the month Esfand , the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar.
Hajji Firuz is the traditional herald of Nowruz. He oversees celebrations for the new year perhaps as a remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian fire-keeper. His face is painted black (black is an ancient Persian symbol of good luck) and wears a red costume. Then he sings and dances through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and heralds the approaching New Year.
This is called Chahārshanbe Suri and takes place the day before the last Wednesday of the year, and he gets everyone to join in. 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.
In association with the “rebirth of nature”, extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost all Iranian households, and hyacinths and tulips are always around the house. This spring clean is known as Khouneh Tekouni (literally ‘shaking the house’)
Haft Sīn or the seven ‘S’s is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft seen table includes seven items all starting with the letter sīn in the Perso-Arabic alphabet. The Haft Chin table includes the following items which symbolize Zoroastrian divinities such as ātar and asmān.
Mirror – symbolizing Sky
Apple – symbolizing Earth
Candles – symbolizing Fire
Golab – rose water symbolizing Water
Sabzeh – wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
Goldfish – symbolizing Animals
Painted Eggs – symbolizing Humans and Fertility
The traditional dish at Nowruz is Sabzeh Pillo which is eaten with rice and smoked fish. families visits each other and presents are given to the children.
Nowruz takes place over 13 days, and on the the thirtieth day families leave their homes and picnic outdoors, as part of the Sizdah Be-dar ceremony. Every one takes food and joins in this grand picnic.
How did you and your family celebrate Nowruz? Send us your pictures @globetrekkertv
For more information about traditional Iranian Foods, read our food guide here: http://www.pilotguides.com/articles/iran-food-guide/
Explore more about the colourful region with it’s famous hospitality in our Globe Trekker Episode with Ian Wright as he explores the heart and soul of Iran; its customs and culture!