Nowruz, the Persian new year is listed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. March 21st indicates the first day of spring but for Iranian and many nation around the world the new year starts at this day, Nowruz marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one, and it occurs on the day of the vernal equinox.
More accurately, the new year begins the second the equinox happens. Usually, the equinox happens from March 19 to 21. The moment of starting the new year is so precise that even the seconds are observed and it is different in other places (depend on their geographical location). This precision shows the accuracy of Persian calendar.
No one knows exactly how far back Nowruz dates. The best estimates sit somewhere in the range of 3,000 years. But the most important thing to know about Nowruz’s origin story is that it’s rooted in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that predates both Christianity and Islam. For the celebration of the New Year ancient Persian have observed the beginning of spring, related to the harvest and the sowing of seeds. This day was an important day during Achaemenids period, when kings from different countries bring presents to the King of Kings of Iran.
Since Zoroastrianism dates back thousands of years, it’s hardly confined to within the borders of Iran or the many versions of the Persian Empire there have been which is why Nowruz is also celebrated by millions of non-Iranians around the world.
In Iran, the Nowruz holidays last thirteen days. On the thirteenth day of the New Year, Iranians leave their houses to picnic outdoors since they believe staying at homes can bring bad luck to them. This is a part of the Sizdebedar ceremony (thirteen day of the last day of holiday) to spend the whole day in nature and out of the city.
On this day, the greenery grown “Sabzeh” of the Haft-sin is thrown away into a running water. It is also customary for young single people, especially young girls, to tie the leaves of the greenery before discarding it, expressing a wish to find a partner.
Another custom associated with Sizdah bedar is Lie of the Thirteen, which is the process of lying to someone and making them believe it. Most likely April Fools' Day is originated from this custom.
The beautiful arrangement of seven items that start with the sound of “S” in Farsi is an essential part of new year celebration these items symbolize the hopes for a successful and happy new year:
1. Serkeh (Vinegar) symbolizes patience and immortality.
2. Sumac is a symbol of love and compassion.
3. Seeb (Apple) is said to represent health and fertility.
4. Senjed (Silverberry) is seen as a simulator of love and affection.
5. Sabzeh (Sprouts) symbolizes rebirth. The greens might have sprouted from wheat, lentils, barely or mung beans (and more recently citrus seeds).
6. Sir (Garlic) was traditionally thought to avert evil; given the pungent smell it diffuses, we couldn’t entirely reject that theory. It is a symbol of protection in the face of ..
7. Samanu is a nutritious pudding. To make Samanu, wheat sprouts are transformed into a sweet and creamy delight. The seventh “Seen” represents prosperity.
Iranians welcome spring with sparkling clean houses and a new set of clothes. Sitting by the haft sin table and praying with a Koran or hafiz in hand some of the other items that are also used for the decoration of haft sin table are;
"Sekkeh" (Coin) (symbol of Wealth), "Sonbol " (Hyacinth), "Sepand" (Peganum harmalaetc). There are also some items in Haft-Seen which do not start with "Seen", but as a symbol or a decoration: Mirror a symbol for Lighting, Goldfish symbol for Victory and Blessing, Quran, Shahnameh or Hafez Poet Book, as Holy-books or respectful literature in Persian culture, a bowl of water and colored eggs.
Iranians celebrate Chaharshanbe Soori, an ancient fire festival held on the eve of the last Tuesday of Iranian calendar year.
As the sun sets of this day people light up fires and gather around to jump over them. As they do this, they sing "zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man” meaning my yellow is yours, your red is mine. In this ritual, they ask the fire to take their paleness and problems and in return give them energy and warmth.
Another custom is similar to trick-or-treating that is called "Qhashogh Zani" which literally translated as "spoon-banging". Children going door-to-door and hit spoons for receive packaged snacks and nuts.
The ancient Iranians celebrated the festival of the last five days of the year in honor of the spirits of the dead, which is today referred to as Farvardinegan. They believed that the spirits of the dead would come for reunion. The Festival of Fire is also a remnant of the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, where fire represents God‘s light or wisdom.
However, the traditional festival could be dangerous as well. Every year, authorities launch public awareness campaigns about the dangers of fireworksYalda night, celebration of the longest night of the year
Yalda night is a beautiful ancient Iranian celebration that is widely praised all over in Iran. Yalda means birth of sun and it refers to the mythological goddess of light Mitra, according to the Georgian calendar yalda night is on 20 to 21 of December & since in Iran we use a different calendar yalda is the last evening of the Autumn season. In winter days get longer and nights get shorter, therefore yalda night is also a turning point, after which the days grow longer and it symbolized the triumph of Light and Goodness over the powers of Darkness.
On yalda night, people gather with their families and friends at the home of grandparents to pass the longest night of the year happily by eating nuts and fruits and reading hafiz poem around a Korsi which is a type of low table with a heater underneath it and blankets thrown over it. Watermelon and pomegranate are two delicious parts of this festive night. Red is also the color of yalda night like the color of Christmas. Yalda night is also celebrated in countries such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.