Celebrating Persian New Year

By Paris Mangan, Lead Behavior Technician

As an Iranian-American, spring is very important to me and my family because the Spring equinox is our New Year! Persian New Year, also known as Nowruz, meaning “new day”, is the biggest celebration of the year for Iranians world wide. It is a celebration rich with ancient traditions dating back over 3000 years beginning with the Zoroastrian religion.

Beginning Anew

Nowruz itself begins on the exact day and time of the Spring equinox, however our celebrations begin a week prior. Charshanbe Suri meaning “Festive Wednesday” is where our New Years celebrations begin. The Wednesday before the equinox we gather with family and friends to eat good foods and jump over small bonfires. As we jump over the fires we sing “my yellow is yours, your red is mine”, which means my weakness to you and your strength to me, asking the fire to take away ill-health and problems and replace them with warmth, health, and energy. We basically start off our New Year by “burning off” and negativity from the previous year so we can begin anew.

Sofreh Haft Seen

Another tradition of ours is the Sofreh Haft Seen meaning table of 7 “S”’s. We set a traditional table with different items each symbolizing something we wish for the New Year. Seven of those items begin with an “S” in Farsi (the persian language) which is why we call it a Haft Seen (7 “S”’s.)

haft seen

On our Haft Seen table we have:

  • Sabzeh: wheat or barley symbolizing growth
  • Samanu: sweet pudding symbolizing power and strength
  • Senjed: Persian olives symbolizing love
  • Sumac: symbolizing the sunrise
  • Seeb: an apple symbolizing beauty
  • Seer: garlic symbolizing health and medicine
  • Sonbol: Hyacinth flowers symbolizing the arrival of Spring

We also include coins to symbolize prosperity, eggs for fertility, a mirror for self reflection, candles for enlightenment, a goldfish for progress, and a book for wisdom.

The symbolism of all aspects of Nowruz has always been so beautiful to me, we gather together everything that we believe could make the perfect year at the arrival of Spring.

Our Nowruz celebration doesn’t end with the Spring equinox though, for the next 13 days after the equinox we visit family and friends to share food and bring warm wishes for the New Year. Elders give gifts of money to those younger than them to bring them wealth in the New year.

On the 13th day of the New Year we celebrate Sizdah Bedar, directly translated to “Thirteen Outdoors.” On Sizdah Bedar we gather with friends and family and our community outdoors to have a picnic to mark the end of our Nowruz holiday.

As my family and I celebrate our New Year and a fresh start, I welcome my Kadiant family in joining us to put any negativity from the last year behind us and begin anew this spring.