Nowruz means the start of new life in harmony with the rebirth of nature in spring. New Year in Iran always begins on the first day of spring, which is 20th of the march. Nowruz ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts – the End and Rebirth. Nowruz is not just a simple celebration for Iranians; it is an international celebration for anybody who believes in change. By the end of the year, everybody should leave behind all the bad experiences and failures, even replacing all hostilities with friendships and start to have new experiences and successes.
Chahar Shanbeh Soori
The night before the last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by the Iranian people as Chahârshanbe Soorî, meaning red Wednesday, the Iranian festival of fire. This festival is the celebration of the light (the good) winning over the darkness (the bad).
Jump on the fire and say: Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly pallor.
It is a spread with seven items whereby each symbolizes a wish or theme. All seven items in this ceremonial table starts with the Persian letter Seen or S in English. The Haft Seen spread is usually put out a week before the New Year, which sets the mood for celebration.
The seven items are:
Sabzeh (grown wheat or lentil) for rebirth
Samanu (flour and sugar) for sweetness of life
Sekeh (coin) for prosperity and wealth
Senjed (dried fruit of Lotus tree) for love
Seer (garlic) for health
Somaq (sumac berries) for warmth
Serkeh (vinegar) for patience
SeezDah BeDar, Sizdeh Bedar
This tradition is called Seezdah Bedar (Seezdah means 13) which in English translates to “getting rid of 13″. This fun and exciting outing involves all family members and is intended to end the holiday season on a relaxing and positive note. The concept of avoiding the number thirteen is mainly to symbolize the will and power to deal with all evil in the New Year.
An interesting ritual performed at the end of the picnic day is to throw away the Sabzee from the Nowruz Haft Seen table. The Sabzee is supposed to have collected all the sickness, pain and ill fate hiding on the path of the family throughout the coming year! Touching someone else’s Sabzee on this thirteenth day or bringing it home is therefore not a good idea and may result in absorbing their pain and hardship.