This is the 4th year that I'm far from home, but as an Iranian, celebrating Nowruz holds a special place in my heart. Nowruz, which is also known as the Persian New Year, is a holiday that is steeped in tradition and culture, and it serves as a reminder of the beauty and richness of my Iranian heritage. The holiday, which is celebrated on the first day of spring, is a time of renewal, as well as a time for families and friends to come together to celebrate. In this post, I would like to share some of the history and traditions associated with Nowruz, as well as my personal experiences of celebrating the holiday.
On Monday, March 20th 2023, at 10:24:27pm CET time, Nowruz, the Persian New Year, will be celebrated as it marks the beginning of the year 1402. You may ask why it's so detailed and why it's not on the midnight. So let see how they calculate it:
The moment of Nowruz is determined based on the astronomical event called the vernal equinox. This occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator, resulting in nearly equal amounts of daylight and darkness on Earth. The precise moment of the vernal equinox varies each year, depending on factors such as the Earth's rotation and the position of the sun in relation to the equator.
To calculate the moment of Nowruz, astronomers and scientists use a combination of astronomical observations and calculations. They first determine the exact moment of the vernal equinox in the time zone where the celebration is taking place. This calculation is typically done using advanced computer programs that track the position of the sun and other celestial bodies.
Once the moment of the vernal equinox has been determined, it is announced to the public so that they can begin preparing for the celebrations. In Iran, the announcement of the moment of Nowruz is made by the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Tehran, and it is usually broadcasted on national television and radio.
What is Nowruz?
The word Nowruz means "new day" in Persian. This holiday is also known as the Iranian New Year, but it is not limited to Iran. Nowruz is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and parts of India and Pakistan.
History of Nowruz
Nowruz has its roots in ancient Zoroastrian traditions that date back to more than 3,000 years ago. The holiday marks the beginning of the new year and the end of winter, a time of rebirth and renewal. According to Zoroastrian beliefs, on this day, the forces of good and evil meet in battle, and the forces of good triumph.
Nowruz celebrations last for 13 days and are filled with many customs and traditions. Here are a few of them:
🧹 Spring Cleaning
In preparation for Nowruz, people clean their homes thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly! I'll need a few days of bed rest to reset after cleaning the house. This tradition, called "khooneh takouni," which means "shaking the house," is a way of getting rid of any bad luck from the previous year and welcoming in the new year.
🌿 Haft-Seen Table
The Haft-Seen table is a traditional table setting that is arranged before the New Year's Day during Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The table includes seven items starting with the Persian letter "س" (pronounced "seen"), representing seven creations and seven holy immortals in Zoroastrianism. Each of these items symbolizes something different, such as growth, love, health, and wealth. Here's a closer look at what each of the seven items represents:
Sabzeh (سبزه): Sabzeh is wheat or lentil sprouts that are grown in a dish a few days before Nowruz. It symbolizes rebirth, growth, and the start of new life.
Samanu (سمنو): Samanu is a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, which represents wealth and fertility.
Senjed (سنجد): Senjed is dried oleaster fruit, which symbolizes love and affection.
Seer (سیر): Seer is garlic, which is a symbol of health and medicine.
Seeb (سیب): Seeb is an apple, which represents beauty and health.
Somāq (سماق): Somāq is sumac berries, which symbolize the color of sunrise and the victory of good over evil.
Serkeh (سرکه): Serkeh is vinegar, which represents age and patience.
In addition to the seven items, other elements such as coins (سکه), mirrors, candles, The Divān of Hafez, and Quran are also placed on the Haft-Seen table. These items are believed to bring good fortune, health, and happiness for the coming year. Overall, the Haft-Seen table is a beautiful representation of the hope and joy that Nowruz brings, and the items are a reflection of the values and traditions of the Persian culture.
🏘️ Visiting Friends and Family
During Nowruz, it's common for people to visit their friends and family to exchange greetings and gifts. This tradition, known as "Eidi," is a way of strengthening bonds and fostering goodwill. The gift is typically given in the form of cash, and the amount can vary depending on the age and relationship of the recipient.
You may think that it's just visiting your grandparents. Well, you're wrong! I had to visit my father's uncle and my cousin's cousin. I can't even explain some peoples relations but I had to visit them.
We also visit families who lost someone in the past months to assure them their are not alone.
🔥 Fire Jumping
On the last Wednesday of the old year, people light bonfires in the streets and jump over the flames. This tradition, called "Chaharshanbe Suri," is a way of purifying the body and mind and is said to bring good luck.
🤝 Nowruz Greetings
People exchange special greetings during Nowruz, such as "Eid-eh shoma mobarak," which means "May your new year be blessed," and "Norouzetan pirouz," which means "May you have a victorious New Year."
🚙 Sizdah Bedar
"Sizdah Bedar" is one of my favorite traditions associated with the Persian New Year, or Nowruz. It falls on the 13th day of the New Year and is all about spending time outdoors in nature with family and friends. It's a day to relax, have fun, and enjoy the spring weather after a long winter. On this day, many people in Iran head out to parks, forests, or natural areas with their loved ones to picnic and enjoy outdoor activities. It's common to see families and groups of friends gathered around large blankets or rugs, sharing delicious homemade food, and playing games. Some people even tie blades of grass together and throw them into a nearby river, symbolizing the casting away of any bad luck from the previous year.
As we get ready to celebrate Nowruz this year, remember that this holiday is all about cherishing our loved ones, being thankful for the good stuff in our lives, and looking forward to fresh starts in the new year. So, no matter where you're from or what your background is, let the spirit of renewal, love, and unity that Nowruz brings inspire you. Here's to hoping that the year 1402 is filled with loads of happiness and success for everyone reading this, and may the magic of spring bring joy to all our lives.
Nowruzetan Pirouz ❤️ نوروزتان پیروز!