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Persian New Year (Norooz)
Spring Equinox is the Start of Persian New Year

2017 Persian New Year (Vernal Equinox)
Arrives at exactly 5:28:40 am Central Time
On Monday, March 20th 2017

NOROOZ  (meaning “New Day”) is the Iranian New Year. It falls on the first day of Spring (around March 21st) which is also Spring Equinox, one of only two days in a year when the length of day and night are almost equal.

Norooz History

The first recorded celebration of NOROOZ and its
rituals dates back to near 3000 years ago. In harmony with the rebirth of nature, the Persian New Year celebration always begins on the first day of spring. NOROOZ means the "New Day", and refers to a new beginning in the new year. On NOROOZ, the king would receive a long list of diplomats, government officials and even ordinary citizens in his palace. On these occasions, a variety of gifts were exchanged.

What Is This Ancient Symbol?

The religion of ancient Persians at the time was Zoroastrianism. Persians & Zoroastrians were strong believers in “Human Rights”, being “Positive”, “Good” and “Honest”. Their religious motto was, “Good Thoughts, Good Deeds and Good Words.” Celebrating NOROOZ for them meant letting into their homes all that is “Good,” “Positive” and “Happy” and getting rid of all things “Negative.” This is still true for all Iranians today no matter where they live.

Vernal Equinox

The year changes on the Vernal Equinox or "Saal-Tahveel" which may occur on March 19, 20, 21 or 22. It makes its arrival at the precise moment that the sun crosses the Equator. It is AMOO NOROOZ (similar to Santa Claus) who kicks out the winter cold and brings life to nature and warmth to every household.

House Cleaning

To this day, a few weeks before the new year, Persians thoroughly clean and rearrange their homes. They buy or make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as signs of renewal. The ceremonial cloth known as Haft-Seen is set up in each household.

Ceremonial Table Setting
"Haft Seen" or 7 "S"

Haft-Seen or The Table of Seven S's is a ritualistic table that Persians prepare and sit around at "Saal-Tahveel". "Haft" means "seven" in Persian, and "Seen" is the 15th letter of the Persian alphabet (which consists of 32 letters) and phonologically corresponds to the letter S in the English language.  The items are believed to bring good fortune and good health. The seven items are chosen for what they symbolize. The number “Seven” has long been considered a symbol of good luck and special value in Iranian culture as well as other cultures.

The following is a list of "Haft-Seen" items and a brief description of their symbolic meaning or cultural significance.

Sabzeh (sprouts, usually lentil or wheat): Representing fertility and rebirth of nature.
Seeb (apple): Represents natural beauty.
Samanu (a pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding): Represents the reward of patience.
Somaq (Somaq berry used as spice): Represents the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun Good conquers Evil.

Senjed (the sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree): Represents love. It has been said that when lotus tree is in full bloom, its fragrance and its fruit make people fall in love and become oblivious to all else.

Seer (garlic): Represents health.
Serkeh (vinegar): Represents age.

Wednesday Fire Festival
“Chahar Shanbeh Suri”

NOROOZ festivities actually begins before the first day of spring. It starts with a “Wednesday Fire Festival” called “Chahar Shanbeh Suri” (meaning, “Wednesday Party”) The festival of fire is a prelude to the ancient NOROOZ festival, which marks the arrival of spring and revival of nature. Chahr Shanbeh Suri, is celebrated the night before the last Wednesday of the year. The word Chahar Shanbeh means Wednesday. The bon fires are lit at the sunset and the idea is to not let the sun set. Bon fires are lit to keep the sun alive till early hours of the morning. The celebration usually starts in the evening. On this occasion people make bon-fires on the streets or in parks and jump over them. The young shoot fireworks before and during Chaharshanbe SuriThe tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make fires, and jump over them while singing the traditional song Sorkhi-ye to az man; Zardi-ye man az to. The literal translation is, Your fiery red color is mine and my sickly yellow paleness is yours. This is a purification rite. Loosely translated, this means you want the fire to take your paleness, sickness and problems and in turn give you redness, warmth and energy. Yellow or paleness symbolizes the sickness and pain and red symbolizes heath.

13th Day Picnic

Click to see photos

NOROOZ celebrations end with an all-day picnic party on the 13th day of spring called, “Sizdeh Bedar” (meaning “rid the 13th") . The tradition of leaving the house on the thirteenth (Sizdeh) day of  the new year, the last day of the NOROOZ period, and spending that day outside with joy, laughter and pleasure has been in practice since ancient times in Iran. This is the last phase of the celebrations of the New Year. This joyous celebration has its roots in the Zoroastrian belief that laughter and joy symbolize the disposing of evil and bad thoughts. According to Zoroastrianism, evil thoughts are the gift of Ahreeman (the devil) and the festival of the New Year will cleanse all evil thoughts. The celebrations defeat the enemies and plant shoots of comradeship and peace. The custom of kissing each other on the cheeks also comes from a belief that it cleanses the individual. On this day People sing, cook out and play games to end the holiday season on a positive note.


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