Persian New Year is around the corner!

TThe Persian New Year is called Norooz (also Nowruz, Nawroz, among other spellings) and marks the first day of spring and is celebrated by Persians of all religions (in Iran, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, China (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks only), Georgia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, India (Parsees only), Uzbekistan, Pakistan.)

In 2016, Norooz will begin on March 20 (Farvardin 1, the first day of Spring) in Iran. The exact moment of the new year is called Tahvil. Norooz lasts 12 days in Iran. It coincides with the vernal equinox, so its date in the Gregorian calendar changes every year.

History

Norooz celebrates renewal and rebirth, symbolized by the coming of spring. It is partly rooted in the Zoroastrian tradition, but is an ancient holiday that was celebrated thousands of years ago. The word Nowruz is a compound word that blends together the Persian words “now” which means “new,” and “roz” which means “day.”

Traditions

A traditional ceremonial table display is set up called the sofreh-ye haft-sinn (“cloth of 7 dishes”). Behrooz Far and his wife Nava explained to interfaith activist Rothwell Polk, “The haft-sinn table is set with the Kitab-i-Aqdas, our Holy Book, flowers, a bowl of goldfish, a mirror, candles and painted eggs and seven traditional foods each starting with the letter ‘s’ in Persian.” This table remains in the family home for thirteen days after the start of the holiday.

Haft Seen
  • Sabzeh: lentil, barley or wheat sprouts growing in a dish, symbolizing renewal
  • Samanu: a thick, sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing affluence
  • Senjed: dried fruit of the lotus tree, symbolizing love
  • Sir: garlic, symbolizing medicine
  • Sib: apples, symbolizing health and beauty
  • Somaq: sumac berries, symbolizing sunrise
  • Serkeh: vinegar, symbolizing age and patience.

A traditional dinner for Norooz is Sabzi Polo Mahi, a rice dish with whitefish and green herbs like parsley, coriander, chives, dill, and fenugreek

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