Eide Shoma Mobarak! Happy (Persian) New Year!

The G-E family in Iran, 2011

Today is the Persian New Year! Hello year 1391!

The new year, Nowruz (which means new day in Farsi) takes place on the vernal Spring equinox, which is usually sometime in April or May. This huge holiday in the Iranian culture represents the celebration of new life that comes during the Spring.

Nowruz dates back at least 3,000 years and is rooted in rituals from the Zoroastrian religion. It was originally celebrated in the geographical area of Persia, but is now celebrated in Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Tajikistan, Albania, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Serbia, and Uzbekistan.

The weeks leading up to Nowruz is traditionally when Iranians do their “Spring cleaning.” By the time Nowruz comes, the Persians are ready for their fresh start to the new year and a new Spring.

The most essential tradition of Nowruz is for every family to prepare the Haft Sin or 7 symbolic items that start with the letter S (in Farsi). The number 7 has been symbolic in Iran since ancient times and the seven dishes stand for life – rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.

Sabzeh – sprouted wheat or lentil growing in a dish, to symbolize rebirth.

Samanu –  a pudding made from common wheat sprouts that are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding and represents the ultimate sophistication of Persian cooking. This represents fertility and the sweetness of life.

Seeb – apple, represents health and beauty.

Senjed – the sweet, dried fruit of the Lotus tree, represents love.

Sir – garlic, represents medicine and good health.

Sumac – crushed sumac berries, to represent the color of the sunrise; with the appearance of the sun, Good conquers Evil.

Serkeh – vinegar, to represent age and patience.

Mamani & Baba, 2011

The Persian calendar, which would make this year 1391, is one of the oldest calendars as well as the most accurate solar calendar in use today. This is because the calendar uses astronomical calculations for determining the year. .

According to some internet searching, Nowruz begins “at the start of Spring in the northern hemisphere: on the midnight between the two consecutive solar noons which include the instant of the Northern spring equinox, when the sun enters the northern hemisphere. The first noon is on the last day of one calendar year and the second noon is on the first day (Nowruz) of the next year.” (yeah…I definitely don’t understand that…)

Happy Persian New Year!! Let’s make 1391/2012 a good one! 

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