Have you been invited to a Norooz party this year, but aren’t really sure what it is about? Or maybe you heard something about it and are curious. Norooz (also spelled Naruz, Noroz, Noruz, Nowruz, Norouz…) is the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated on the first day of spring.
Preparing for Norooz
Like many other cultures, preparing for Persian New Year includes a thorough cleaning of the house to symbolize a fresh start and clear out malities from the previous year. It is also customary to purchase a new set of clothes to wear on the first day of the new year. Houses are also decorated with flowers. Most popular are tulips and hyacinth.
The Norooz celebration
On Norooz, the family gathers for a feast and to observe the Haft Sin. The Haft Sin is a table set up with seven items begining with the letter S (Sîn, س) in the Persian alphabet. All the items symbolize ideals of the seven creations and the holy immortals watching over them .
The traditional Haft Sin items are:
- sabzeh(سبزه) – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
- samanu (سمنو)- a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
- senjed (سنجد)- the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love
- sîr (سیر)- garlic – symbolizing medicine
- sîb (سیب)- apples – symbolizing beauty and health
- somaq (سماق)- sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
- serkeh (سرکه)- vinegar – symbolizing age and patience
- sonbol – hyacinth flowers – the coming of spring
- sekkeh – coins – prosperity and wealth
- Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi – symbolizes spreading the sweetness
- Dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)
- Lit candles – symbolizes enlightenment and happiness
- Decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family – symbolizes fertility
- Bowl with goldfish – symbolizes life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving
- Bowl of water with an orange in it – symbolizes the earth floating in space
- Rose water – symbolizes cleansing powers
- National colors or flag – patriotic symbol
Video of a Haft Sin table:
At the exact moment spring arrives, gifts are exchanged and the elder family members give Eidee or Aide (coins) to the children. Popular Norouz, dishes include fish with rice seasoned with fresh green herbs (Sabzi Polo), a rice dish cooked with noodles to symbolize helping the diner succeed in life (Reshteh Polo), and a vegetable and herb souffle (Kookoo sabzi).
Starting on the first day of the new year, the families will visit the home of the most senior family member. For the next 11 days, families pay short visits to the homes of relatives, friends, and neighbors. On the 13th day, called Sizdah Bedar, it is customary to spend time outside in the beautiful spring weather for picnics and outdoor activities. Celebrations are accompanied with singers, live music, classical Persian dance performances, and also Middle Eastern belly dancing.
For a great overview and history of Norooz, watch this video.
Want to celebrate Norooz this year or observe a Persian Norooz celebration in Sacramento? California State University Sacramento is hosting a 2012 Norooz festival on Sunday, March 4th from 1pm – 4pm at the University Union. Experience Persian dance and music performances, eat traditional Iranian food, and learn more about the Haft Sin and Norooz traditions.
Norooz Mobarak! (Happy New Year!)