How are we celebrating Norouz? Well, first of all with a HaftSin table! As you guys put your Christmas tree and decorate it, in Iran we do it in a different way.
Around one week before Norouz, Iranians start decorating their own HaftSin table. HaftSin literally means ‘7S’. HaftSin includes 7 items that all start with a ‘S’ (in Farsi of course) and each of them symbolize something in life. We also add a few other objects, which don’t start with a ‘S’, but they also symbolize important elements of life. You can decorate them in a way that you like, but most often people are putting them on a table. Let me tell you which objects are part of HaftSin and what they mean:
1. Sabze : wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolizing rebirth)
2. Samanu : a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolizing affluence)
3. Senjed : the dried fruit of the Jujube tree (love)
4. Seer : garlic (medicine)
5. Seeb : apples (beauty and health)
6. Somaq : sumac berries (the color of the sunrise)
7. Serkeh : vinegar (age and patience)
8. Sonbol : the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)
9. Sekkeh : coins (prosperity and wealth)
Other items without ‘S’ on the table may include:
1. Candles (enlightenment and happiness)
2. Painted eggs, perhaps one for each member of the family (fertility)
3. A bowl with two goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
4. A bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
5. Rose water for its magical cleansing powers
6. A holy book (e.g., the Qur’an, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bible, Torah or the Avesta) or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or of Hafez)
As you can see there are more than 7 items with a ‘S’. It is ok to have all of them, but make sure to have at least 7 ‘S’ on HaftSin tableJ.
You can decorate all of these items in a nice way. Once you’re finished, make sure to also go and check the HaftSin tables at your Iranian families or friends. Honestly, they’re beautiful and colorful.
How Iranian Celebrate Norouz?
After decorating and finishing the HaftSin table, it’s time to welcome Norouz. During the New Year everyone spends time with their own family. Family members sit around the HaftSin table and await the arrival of spring, no matter if it is morning or middle of the night because there is no specific time to welcome Norouz. After that, people visit the oldest family member like grandparents. The Norouz holidays last for 13 days. For a week families visit each other and wish each other a wonderful year ahead. These visits are called “Eid didani” in Farsi.
When I was child, my whole family still lived in Iran. I remember the first day of Norouz; prior to lunch we spend time at my grandmother’s house (my dad side) and in the evening we used to go to my other grandmother (my mom side). After that we used the holidays to visit all aunts and uncles. One by one each day. I am happy I don’t have a big family, else it took like a monthJ. Currently, most of my family has moved to different countries all around the world, so we don’t have that many visits anymore.
While I remember that I always got so tired from all the visits, I’ve to say that I miss that time with all the family still in Iran and celebrating Norouz has become more emotional year after year. Last year I travelled back to Iran to spend Norouz with my family. I was so happy! Gifts are part of the celebration. There is a tradition that the older people give gifts to the younger people. My brother and I were the youngest members of the families at both my mother and father side. So you may understand that we’re always happy to receive so many gifts. This gift is called “Eidi” and would often be money, so we could save it and buy something nice after the Norouz holidays.
How to finish Norouz?
As I mentioned, the Norouz holidays last for 13 days. Number 13 is in many cultures based on superstitious, is an unlucky number. So the 13th day of Norouz, or ‘Sizde Bedar in’, family and friends gather and stay together till the bad luck of day 13th goes away and won’t harm them and their loved ones. People mostly spend this day outside, like having a picnic near a river. The significance of a river or a body of water is that the Sabzeh (sprouting seeds) is kept until this day and they’re then thrown in the water for good luck and also to symbolize the return to nature. After Sizde Bedar, the holidays are over and everyone goes back to work.
Please think of us on 21 March, or better join in the celebration! The following few sentences may help you around Norouz when you meet your Iranian family or friend:
“Nowruz Mobarak” (Happy Nowruz). “Eyd e Shoma Mobarak” (Happy Eyd e Nowruz). “Sal e No Mobarak” (Happy New Year).
Happy Nowruz everyone, enjoy your time with your loved ones.