Iranian New Year Celebration
Norooz 6373 Padeshahi
2568 Kooroshi ( Persian Empire)
Norooz or new day, is a wonderful Iranian celebration that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Iran. Norooz is the most cherished of all the Iranian festivals and has been celebrated for more than 4000 years. Norooz is a celebration of spring equinox and represents ancient Iranians' impressive understanding of science and astronomy. Iranians decorate their traditional Norooz table with "Seven Sheen", ancient Iranian ceremonial Norooz items before Arab invasion.
1- Shokofeh (flower blossom), 2- Shir (milk), 3- Shirini (sweets), 4-Sham (candle), 5- Shamshir (protection and power) over the years it has been replaced with Shahnameh (Epic of Kings), 6- Sharub (wine), 7- Shahdaneh (ancient medicine)
- The epic takes Norooz back to King Jamshid as said in Shahnameh of Ferdowsi: King Jamshid coined Norooz as a "new day" after he eliminated ignorance, poverty, injustice more that 4,000 years ago and celebration of Norooz became an annual event. It is said that King Jamshid and Kiaani Dynasty’s rule, which lasted for several hundred years was a glorious time of prosperity and happiness for ancient Iran and Iranians. Norooz did not end with Jamshid’s passing, but rather was strengthened through the centuries to become the all encompassing and glorious celebration of rebirth and renewal that it is today
Epic of Norooz
During the Sassanian time (224 to 652 CE), preparations began at least 25 days before Norooz. Twelve pillars of mud bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Vegetable seeds - wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others were sown on top of the pillars. They grew into luxurious greens by the New Year Day. On the sixth day, called the Greater Norooz the King held audience. A general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes. The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close.
Norooz ideological roots
- Norooz or new day, is ancient Iranian celebration of spring equinox. It is the most cherished of all the Iranian festivals and is celebrated by all. Norooz has been celebrated for more than 4000 years. The oldest archaeological record for Norooz celebration comes from the Achaemenian (Hakhamaneshi) period over 2,500 years ago. Achaemenians had four major residences one for each season. Persepolis was their spring residence and the site for celebrating the New Year. Stone carvings show the king seated on his throne receiving his subjects, governors and ambassadors from various nations under his control. They are presenting him with gifts and paying homage to him.
Modern Iranians celebrate the New Year for 13 days. It is customary for all to take a bath and cleanse themselves thoroughly before Norooz. This is a purification rite but has lost its meaning in modern times. New garments are worn to emphasize freshness. This is very important since Norooz is a feast of hope and renewal. Families stay home and wait for the start of the New Year which starts at the exact time of the spring equinox-- called Sal Tahvil -- between the 19th and 21st of March. The first few minutes are spent around an elaborately prepared spread known as the Haft Sheen. A major part of New Year rituals is setting the Haft Sheen table with seven specific items. All seven items start with the letter "Sh". 1- Shokoofeh (flower blossom), 2- Sheer (milk), 3- Sheerini (sweets), 4- Sham (candle), 5- Shahnameh (Epic of Kings), 6- Sharub (wine), 7- Shahdaneh (ancient Iranian medicine)
Once the New Year is announced (on the radio or TV) younger members of the family will pay respect to elders by wishing them a merry New Year. Relatives kiss and hug and presents (traditionally cash or coins) are exchanged. Sweets are offered to all to symbolically sweeten their lives for the rest of the year. A small mirror is passed around, rose water is sprinkled into the air and Espand a popular incense is burnt, to keep the evil eye away.
The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family, relatives and friends. Children receive presents and sweets and special meals are consumed. Traditionally on the night before the New Year, most Iranians will have Sabzi Polo Mahi, a special dish of rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with smoked and freshly fried fish. Koukou Sabzi, a mixture of fresh herbs with eggs fried or baked, is also served. The next day rice and noodles (Reshteh Polo) is served. Regional variations exist and very colorful feasts are prepared.
Wheat or lentil representing new growth is grown in a flat dish a few days before the New Year and is called Sabzeh (green shoots). Decorated with colorful ribbons, it is kept until Sizdah beh dar, the 13th day of the New Year, and then disposed outdoors. A few live gold fish are placed in a fish bowl. In the old days they would be returned to the riverbanks, but today most people will keep them. Mirrors are placed on the spread with lit candles as a symbol of fire.
For the ancient Iranians, Norooz was a celebration of life. They felt forces of nature, that were completely beyond their control, had a dominant effect on their lives. They formed a union with these forces to protect themselves. Through this union they created a balance and maintained cosmic order.
For modern Iranians, Norooz is a feast of renewal and freshness; a time to visit relatives, friends and pay respect to the older members of the family. A thorough house cleaning purifies the physical space, merrymaking creates comfort, and happiness becomes a celebration in itself. This is reminiscent of ancient traditions when all forces of Joy were regarded as holy. New Year festivities will go on until the 13th day, known as Sizdah beh dar, which literally means getting rid of the omen of the 13th day.
The 13th day is spent mostly outdoors. People will leave their homes to go to the parks or local plains for a festive picnic. It is a must to spend Sizdah beh dar in nature. Iranians today regard 13th day as a bad omen and believe that by going into the fields and parks they avoid misfortunes. This notion is contrary to ancient Iranians doctrine where all days were regarded as sacred. However, according to popular belief, the 13th day of the month as a day with unfortunate consequences, therefore Iranians could have adopted this concept in Sizdah beh-dar.
All kinds of food and delicacies are prepared with tea, drinks, fruits, bread, cheese and fresh herbs. The occasion is a communal one and all close relatives and friends will participate. Wheat or barley shoots (Sabzeh) grown especially for the New Year are discarded in nature on this day. The picnic ends with the setting of the sun. The occasion has no religious significance and is celebrated by all. With the more modern Iranians there is music and dancing while most people will play games and sports. It is also believed that unwed girls can wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots, symbolizing a marital bond.
Noorozetan Pirooz - Har Roozetan Norooz
Happy Jashne Norooz to all true Iranians around the world
May this new year bring freedom, peace and pride back to Iran
Dorood to Iran, Iranians and Farhange Iran
It's time for Iranians to be true Iranian