Nowruz literally means “New Day” is the name of the Iranian New Year also known as the Persian New Year, which is celebrated worldwide by people of Persian ethno-linguistic groups, as the beginning of the New Year.
Nowruz is the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day, depending on where it is observed.
More than 3000 years old, Nowruz is rooted in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that predates both Christianity and Islam. It marks the first day of Farvardin in the Iranian calendar and remains too beloved, universal, and deeply embedded in Persian culture to ignore.
How do you prepare for Nowruz?
Spring cleaning is part of preparing for Nowruz celebrations. Haft-Seen ( which literally means ‘7 S’s) a ceremonial table is prepared and seven items adorn the table setting, all of them symbolic of hope for the New Year and starting with the letter ‘Seen’ in the Persian or Arabic alphabet. The following 7 Haft Sīn items are always included:
- Sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing green environment, happiness and rebirth.
- Samanu – a sweet pudding made from germinated wheat – symbolizing affluence.
- Senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing firmness and tolerance.
- Sīr – garlic – symbolizing health.
- Sīb– apples – symbolizing beauty and love.
- Somaq–sumac berries –symbolizing patience.
- Serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing development and evolution.Once the day of Nowruz arrives, it starts off a 13-day celebration of dinners, family visits, and reflections on the year ahead. On the actual day of Nowruz, the centerpiece of most Nowruz meals will be sabzi pulao ba mahi, an herbed rice served with some kind of whitefish and kuku sabzi, which bakes eggs with a whole lot of herbs like dill, cilantro, parsley, fenugreek, tarragon, and more (like a frittata). As befitting Persian culture, the ceremonies surrounding Nowruz center on community, family, and a deep respect for tradition.
- Some Islamic historical events are believed to have taken place on the day of Nowruz:
- Many families’ haft-seens include a mirror symbolizing reflection, colored eggs for fertility, coins for prosperity, and, sometimes real live goldfish for new life. Muslim families will sometimes include a Quran. Other families might add a volume of poetry by Hafez, one of Iran’s most beloved poets.
- The day based on the solar calendar that God made a covenant with the souls before creation.
- When the universe started its motion.
- Fertile winds first blew and the first ﬂowers on earth appeared.
- Adam (a) was created.
- Abraham (a) destroyed the pagan idols.
- Ali (r) was born inside the Ka’aba.
- Archangel Gabriel first appeared to the Prophet Mohamad (s).
- The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s), during the night of Laylatul Qadr.
- Prophet Muhammad (s) lifted Ali (r) on his shoulders to destroy the idols in the Holy Ka’aba.
- Prophet Muhammad (s) declared Ali (r) as his legitimate successor at Gadhir-e Khumm.Here’s to rebirth, affluence, love, medicine, health, the sunrise and patience. Happy Nowruz!
- The hope of being able to start new, and better, is about as globally widespread a hope as anywhere, which might explain why Nowruz has not just survived through generations of turmoil and prosperity alike, but flourished.