We are in the last phases of winter here and it’s hard not to admire the changes that are occurring. The sun shining higher and longer in the sky than it has in many months. The snow melting slowly, uncovering the paths to the woodshed and compost pile. The birds singing. Ah! Spring is here and with spring comes Nowruz, Persian New Year.
In my culture, we honor the changes in the seasons and spring is our biggest celebration. Growing up spring and Nowruz were one in the same for me. Nowruz begins with the ceremonial cleaning of the house, “spring cleaning”- opening the windows, beating the rugs, cleaning the house, letting go of things that no longer serve you.
Then the Wednesday before spring, we celebrate Chahar shanbeh suri, where we jump over the fire saying, “Zardi-e man az to, Sorkhi-e to az man” which translates to my sickness and problems are all yours (yellow) and your warmth and energy is mine (red).
At the exact time of Vernal Equinox, we gather around the haft seen altar. Haft seen represents the seven Persian “s”. Every haft seen is different but most include:
Sabzeh (Sprouted wheat): For rebirth
Senjed (Dried Fruit of the Lotus Tree): love
Seeb (Apple): beauty
Seer (Garlic): to ward off bad omens
Somagh (Sumac): Representing the spice of life
Sombol (Hyacinth): Representing spring
Sekkeh (Coins): Representing wealth and prosperity
Serkeh (Vinegar): age
Samanoo (Wheat pudding): patience
Also on the haft seen you will find:
Tokhm-e Morgh Rangi (painted eggs): Representing fertility
Narenj (orange) in Water: Representing the earth floating in space
Mahi Ghermez (Goldfish): Representing life
Siyah Daneh (nigella seeds)
The celebration centers on food, of course. Most of the meals that we prepare are Persian dishes that emphasize the greens of spring: bitter and full of energy. The celebration goes on for 13 days, where we gather for Sizdah Bedar (getting rid of 13). It’s custom to go on a picnic with your family, eat good food, sing, dance, and play games. We also throw our sabzeh (sprouted wheat) from our haft seen into a creek or running stream, symbolizing a purging of unnecessary darkness in your home and life.
No matter how you are welcoming in spring, enjoy this time. All is stirring, all is growing. Hope you are stirring and growing happily.