Nowruz is the beginning of the Iranian new year and is one of the most important Iranian customs which is held annually from Farvardin 1st to Farvardin 13th. Nowruz rituals commence before the new year and last through the holidays and sometimes after the holidays. Nowruz is of high regard to Iranians and thus most people try to pay attention to the details of Nowruz holidays. In the Irantrawell website, we will try to address some of the most important of these Nowruz rituals.
Chaharshanbe (Wednesday) Soori is one of the Nowruz rituals that begins before the Nowruz itself. A festival that begins at Tuesday night, before the last Wednesday of the year in the month of Esfand which itself is the last month of the year. In this festival family members and firenids gather around in parks or house yards and light fires, and then they jump across it. There are also some other different rituals in different cities.
Side Rituals of Chaharshanbe Soori
For example in some cities such as Tabriz, people go to the bazaar which is lit beautifully with lights and candles. Each family buy a mirror, incense, and a jug for the new year.
In some cities young boys and girls put a piece of cloth on their heads to avoid being recognized and they go up to the houses of their friends and neighbor and bang on a metal bowl with a metal spoon. Hearing the noise, the house dwellers come to the door and fill their bowls with buts, sweets, candy, money and such.
One of the most important parts of Nowruz rituals is spring cleaning. Spring cleaning (In Persian Khaneh Tekani) literally means shaking the house. In this ritual which is very important to the Iranian women, all the house including drawers, closets, storage, and rooms are tidied and the excess stuff are thrown out.
Walls and the ground are cleaned and the carpets and blankets are washed. Some people renew their home appliances and or add to their existing stuff. In this ritual, which begins from about two months before Nowruz, even the most outreach corners of the house are cleaned and tidied. This Nowruz ritual is inspired by this belief in the past that they thought Farvahars would descent in the month of Farvardin which is the month of Farvahars and if they see the house if clean and tidies they pray for the prosperity of the household.
Among Nowruz rituals that is very popular, is buying new clothes. About two months before Nowruz people go to the market and buy new clothes for all members of the family. During this time people are happy about their new clothes and shop owners are happy about their sales.
Buying Stuff for Accommodating
Buying nuts, sweets, candy, and fruit, baking local sweets and etc. are among the Nowruz rituals.
The Spread with Seven S’s
One of the most important Nowruz rituals and even the most important one is the laying down of spread with seven S’s. This means laying down a spread and putting some things on it where each symbolizes something. Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ), Sabzeh (wheat, barley, mung bean grown in a dish), Sir (garlic), Sib (apple), Senjed (a Persian fruit), Sekkeh (coin), and Somagh (sumac). Some people put Sonbol and Saat (watch) on the spread as well. Some also put gold fish, Quran, mirror, colored eggs, and candle.
What the Seven S’s Symbolize?
- Senjed: symbol of tactful action and being mindful.
- Sib: (Apple) symbol of health and beauty.
- Sabzeh: (Grass) symbol of rebirth, new life and greenery.
- Samanu: symbol of power and prosperity.
- Sir: (Garlic) symbol of wellbeing and disinfecting and is put on the spread to observe boundaries. Garlic is the symbol of self-respect which means one should always practice self-respect.
- Serkeh: (Vinegar) symbol of being obedient of God and being content of what he does.
- Sumac: the color of sunrise; it is the symbol of patience and manifests a new rise.
- Sekkeh: (coin) this is the modern S of this spread and is not really a part of the seven S’s; it has been later added to the spread to symbolize more money.
- Quran: it is put on the spread as a sign of trusting the God and asking him of the best.
- Mirror: it is the symbol of light and should be put on top of the spread.
- Gold fish: it is the symbol of rebirth, youthfulness, and freshness. But today people avoid buying them to observe animal rights.
- Candle: symbol of light and shine.
People gather in the house of the family elder each year at a certain time that changes year by year and sit beside the seven S spread awaiting the new year. During this time some people pray. The new year is marked by the sound of a cannon on TV. Family members kiss each other on the cheek and elder give youngsters Eidi (money). We will talk about Eidi later on.
First Day of the New Year Food
People cook rice with dill and fish and eat them with their family.
Visiting Relatives in Nowruz
In the thirteen day holiday of Nowruz the most important ritual is visiting relatives which is called Eid Didani. In this ritual people wear their new clothes and first visit family elders and then their parents. Many people go to the cemetery with their Sabzeh.
In this ritual people visit even their farthest relatives so that they would see them at least once a year.
Eidi is money or a gift that elders give to youngsters. This ritual which is popular among people and especially kids is upheld in most families. People go to the bank before the new year to get new money and give them as gifts. The amount of this gift depends on cities, how close they are, and the economic condition of the family. Some elders take the Eidi from the Quran and give them to youngsters. This is symbol of increasing wealth during the year.
Sizdah Be Dar
Much like many countries, 13 is an evil number in Iran as well. People go to the nature on Farvardin 13 to ward off this evil.
In this Nowruz ritual which is among the most popular of them, people camp out in the nature with their families. In this ritual people cook food and eat it together. The famous dish of Sizdah Be Dar is Kookoo Sabzi and Ash Reshte.
The interesting ritual of this day is tying the Sabzeh (Grass). In this interesting ritual bachelor boys and girls tie Sabzehs in the nature. This is so that their fate would change they’d get marries.