What is Norooz?

Haft Sin Table

Haft Sin Table

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 [1].

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
Other Haft Sin items include:
  • 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
  • Mirror
  • 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!)

1. Wikipedia

• Meet the Author • Nyla Crystal

Dr. Nyla Crystal holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and performs family-friendly shows for weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events in the Silicon Valley portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. She also co-directs the international award-winning Troupe Scimitar and the Dangerous Beauties Belly Dance show. Learn more about Santa Clara belly dancer, Nyla Crystal.

64 comments… add one

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  • As always some great resources you share with us. I really love the video your share in this post.

    • Thank you! Glad you enjoyed learning about Norooz.

  • Norooz seem like a great celebration indeed.. I love to foods that you have prepared it looks so healthy and yummy! :) Very interesting..

    • I love Persian food. It is very good and the flavors are nice together. One of my favorites (not listed on this post) is pomegranate chicken over saffron rice. Yum!

  • You prepared norooz a nice and a better way.. I know that you will have a great time on your norooz! :)
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  • This might be a silly question, but is it a coincidence that the names of all the table settings begin with “S” or is that deliberate?
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    • It isn’t a silly question. All the items specifically begin with the letter “seen” (kind of like an s in Farsi). So yes, they all begin with an “s” sound, but no it isn’t coincidence. All items represent the triumph of good over evil. Traditionally there are seven “s”‘s. Why the letter “seen” or “s” was chosen, I do not know. If anyone knows that answer, please help us out!

  • Its a very interesting kind of dance..Thanks for sharing the photo of some foods in here looks yummy and healthy kind of food..
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  • It was my first time to read Norooz.. and I am interested about it.. Hope to visit Persia and experience the Norooz celebration.. Love to try the Norooz dance..
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    • I love learning about other cultures and how they celebrate. I also hope to visit Iran one day.

  • Wow. I love learning new things – so Iranian New Year – that’s new for me! Nice blog you have!

  • Well I have never been invited to a Norooz nor have I ever even heard of one. But now that I have read this article I am curious and I sure wish someone would invite me!
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    • Next year around March, check out your local community events for a public Norooz celebration you can attend. They have these celebrations in most major cities.

  • Hi,

    Thank you! Glad to hear that you also have knowledge about novroz.. :) I am also celebrate novroz on 21 St march.. Thanks for sharing it..!


  • I only heard about Nouroz but didn’t know its detail also I haven’t attended it yet but after reading this post I finally know Nouroz details and I am curious to attend it.
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    • Glad you were able to learn something about this celebration. I hope you get to celebrate it next year!

  • never heard of norooz before..thanks for sharing the information…;)

  • Very good. quite like iranian traditions.
    I suggest you to get more informatin about our cultural .There are lots of intresting things to know.Iran also has a long and nice history.
    من به شما پیشنهاد میکنم تا در مورد فرهنگ ایرانی شناخت بشتری بدست بیاورید چیز های شگفت انگیزی برای دانستن وجود دارد.ایران همچنین تاریخ بلند و زیبایی دارد.

  • This is an interesting celebration. The foods look yummy! I enjoyed learning about this. I ha no idea it even existed. Thanks for the lesson.
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  • Awesome recipe !! I love this so much. It looks good. Thanks for sharing the great post.
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  • Yay. Now I want to go to a Norooz party!!!
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  • On Norooz, the family gathers for a feast and to observe the Haft Sin. The Haft Sin is a table HSV up with seven items begining with the hdg S (Sîn, س) in the Persian alphabet. All the items symbolize ideals of the seven jdj creations and the holy immortals watching over them

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