Today is Nowruz, the Persian new year! Certainly the most ancestral and symbolic Persian celebration.
Nowrouz and the coming of spring
Nowruz is the name of the Persian New Year and and it literally means ‘new day’. This celebration dates back to the Historical time where Persia was a Zoroastrian religion, making it one of the most ancestral and symbolic Persian ceremonies.
Persian new year happens the first day of Spring, so the 20th or 21st of March depending on the year. The hour matches with the exact time of the vernal equinox, which changes from one year to the next.
The “Haft Seen”: a must have !
During the New Year, Iranians gather with their family around a table which contains 7 products, all beginning with the letter “S”. All these products have a symbolic meaning, and are supposed to bring joy, health, fertility, wealth and love.
This table is therefore called “Haft Seen”, the table of the “7 S”, which is the key component of the Persian New Year:
- Sabzeh: seeds of wheat, barley or lentil that each family has previously been growing at home –> symbolizes rebirth and renewal
- Samanou: a very sweet pastry made of wheat germ–> symbolizes abundance
- Senjed: dried fruit of the jujube tree–> symbolizing love
- Sir: garlic–> symbolises good health
- Sib: apples–> symbolize beauty
- Somagh: sumac berries –> symbolize the color of the rising sun
- Serkeh: vinegar–> symbolizes patience and wisdom
Additional symbolic elements have been added to this table over the years:
- Hyacinth flower symbolizes the arrival of spring
- Candles to symbolize happiness
- Coins to symbolize wealth and prosperity
- Boiled eggs which have been painted by the younger members of families and symbolize fertility
- Goldfish to symbolize life
- An orange in a bowl of water : symbolizes the rotation of the Earth in Space
- The Quran or a book of poems: either the Shah Nameh of Ferdowsi or the Divan of Hafiz to symbolizes spirituality and wisdom
The traditional meal: Mahi Sefid and Narenj
The traditional meal is a plate of rice cooked with herbs accompanied by a particular variety of fish, “Mahi Sefid”, which means the “white fish” (quite similar to the bass). We then season the fish with a kind of tangy and juicy orange called “Narenj”, which you can also found for example on the trees in the South of Spain, the “naranjas”.
We eat this meal for lunch or dinner, depending on the time of the new year. The desserts include all kinds of Persian pastries and sweets, and of course, the famous cup of tea!
Think you know all about the Persian New Year? Well..not yet as the New Year does not actually begin here! Other events take place bedore D-Day, in order to prepare properly the arrival of the New Year.
And because Iranians like to party, there are also other ceremonies related to the New Year…after the New Year, and more precisely 13 days after! But we will discuss that particular point in the next article 🙂
Meanwhile, here’s a selection of some very beautiful “Haft Seen” tables :
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