Ancient Nowruz is A Traditional Iranian Festival
Nowruz is the name of the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, which is celebrated worldwide by Iranians, along with some other ethno-linguistic groups, as the beginning of the New Year.
The name of Noruz does not occur until the second century AD in any Persian records. We have reasons to believe that the celebration is much older than that date and was surely celebrated by the people and royalty during the Achaemenid times (555-330 BC). It has often been suggested that the famous Persepolis Complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Nowruz.
However, no mention of the name of Nowruz exists in any Achievement inscription.
Nowruz is the traditional Iranian festival of spring which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”. Nowruz is celebrated March 20/21 each year, at the time the sun enters Aries and Spring begins.
Nowruz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion. Today the festival of Nowruz is celebrated in Iran, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajikestan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. People prepare for Nowruz by cleaning the whole house, and everyone in the family helps out.
Carpets, windows and curtains are cleaned. Anything broken is repaired or replaced. Silverware is polished. The house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, people wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year.
They also put on brand new clothes to symbolize a fresh start. Although the Persian Calendar is very precise about the very moment of turn of the new year, Nowruz itself is by definition the very first calendar day of the year, regardless of when the natural turn of the year happens. For instance, in some years, the actual natural moment of turn of the year could happen before the midnight of the first calendar day, but the calendar still starts at 00:00 hours for 24 hours, and those 24 hours constitute the Nowruz. Iranians typically observe the exact moment of the turn of the year.
Nowruz and the seven Ss
It’s important to start the year well: clean, smart, relaxed, happy and surrounded by loved ones. So, just before Nowruz, the whole family comes together. They celebrate around a special table in their house. It’s called the haftseen, which means ‘seven Ss’. On it, there are seven special objects, all of which begin with the ‘s’ sound in the Farsi language and which symbolize something. There are actually more than seven, but here are some of the most common.
Persian name What it is What it symbolises
- somaq a bright red spice made from crushed berries sunrise and the spice of life
- sonbol hyacinth spring
- sekeh coins prosperity
- senjed the sweet dry fruit of the lotus tree love
- seeb apples health and beauty
- samanu a sweet pudding made from wheat the sweetness of life
- Sabzeh sprouted wheat grass rebirth and the renewal of nature
During the Nowruz holidays people are expected to pay house visits to one another (mostly limited to families, friends and neighbors) in the form of short house visits and the other side will also pay you a visit during the holidays before the 13th day of the spring.
Typically, the loungers visit the elders first, and the elders return their visit later. The visits naturally have to be relatively short, otherwise one will not be able to visit everybody on their list. Every family announces in advance to their relatives and friends which days of the holidays are their reception days.
The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is called Sizdah Bedar (meaning “thirteen outdoors”). It often falls on or very close to April Fool’s Day, as it is celebrated in some countries.
People go out in the nature in groups and spend all day outdoors in the nature in form of family picnics. It is a day of festivity in the nature, where children play and music and dancing is abundant. On this day, people throw their sabzeh away in the nature as a symbolic act of making the nature greener, and to dispose of the bad luck that the sprouts are said to have been collecting from the household.