Noruz: The Joyous Celebration of Spring and Renewal in the Persian-Speaking World

Noruz (Nowruz,Nowrouz), also known as the Iranian New Year, is a vibrant and colorful celebration that marks the beginning of Spring in Iran and other countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and parts of India. Noruz is a combination of two Persian words, “no” which means “new” and “ruz” which means “day”, thus Noruz translates to “New Day.” This ancient celebration dates back to over 3,000 years and has become an integral part of the cultural identity of Iran and the Persian-speaking world.

Noruz is celebrated on the Spring Equinox, which is usually around March 21st. However, the festivities last for about two weeks, with preparations starting weeks in advance. Noruz is a time of renewal, rebirth, and rejuvenation, and it symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and the arrival of Spring after a long, cold winter.

Preparations for Noruz usually begin weeks in advance, and it involves a thorough cleaning of homes, purchasing new clothes, and cooking traditional dishes. Iranians believe that this spring cleaning ritual purifies the home and prepares it for a fresh start.

One of the most exciting parts of Noruz is the Haft Seen table, which translates to “Seven S’s” in Persian. This table is a crucial element of the Noruz celebration and represents the seven creations and holy immortals in Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion. The Haft Seen table includes seven items that all start with the Persian letter “S”. These items are:

  • Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts growing in a dish): representing rebirth and growth. (Growing Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts) for Noruz is a cherished tradition in Iran and other Persian-speaking countries. Sabzeh is a symbol of rebirth and renewal and is an essential element of the Haft Seen table, which is a key part of Noruz celebrations.)
  • Samanu (a sweet pudding made from wheat germ): representing fertility and sweetness.
  • Senjed (dried fruit from the lotus tree): representing love.
  • Seer (garlic): representing medicine and health.
  • Seeb (apples): representing beauty and health.
  • Somagh (sumac): representing the color of sunrise.
  • Serkeh (vinegar): representing age and patience.

In addition to these seven items, people often add other things to their Haft Seen table, such as a mirror (representing reflection and self-reflection), goldfish (representing life), candles (representing enlightenment), and painted eggs (representing fertility).

Another crucial part of Noruz is the traditional New Year’s feast, where family and friends come together to share traditional dishes such as Sabzi Polo (herb rice), Kookoo Sabzi (herb frittata), and Reshteh Polo (rice with noodles).

Noruz is also a time for gift-giving and showing gratitude to loved ones. Children receive new clothes and money as gifts from their elders, and adults often exchange gifts and visit friends and family members.

The Noruz celebration is not limited to just one day. In fact, it is a two-week-long festival, with the first thirteen days representing the thirteen days of the Persian New Year. Each day has a specific name and meaning, and people often engage in different activities and rituals on each day. Some of these activities include visiting friends and family, picnicking, and going out into nature to enjoy the beauty of Spring.

The thirteenth day of Noruz is called Sizdeh Bedar (سیزده بدر ), which translates to “thirteen outdoors”. On this day, families and friends head to parks or countryside to picnic, play games, and enjoy nature. It is a day of merriment and joy, and people often have a picnic lunch on this day.

on the thirteenth day of Noruz, which is known as Sizdah Bedar, it is customary in Iran and other Persian-speaking countries to throw Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts) in running water. This ritual is known as “Sabzeh Ruzi,” which translates to “Green Day” in Persian.

The tradition of throwing Sabzeh in running water on Sizdah Bedar has been observed for thousands of years and is believed to have pre-Islamic roots. It is believed that Sabzeh Ruzi helps to cleanse the home and the soul and brings good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

On Sizdah Bedar, families and friends usually gather in parks or countryside to picnic, play games, and enjoy nature. They bring along their Sabzeh, which has been grown on the Haft Seen table, and after a day of merriment and celebration, they throw the Sabzeh in a nearby river or stream.

Throwing Sabzeh in running water is  another tradition on the thirten day of nowrouz, it’s symbolic of letting go of the old and making way for the new. It is a way of renewing one’s spirit and purifying the soul. Iranians believe that if the Sabzeh sinks to the bottom of the river, it is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

Sabzeh Ruzi is a joyful and cherished tradition that brings families and friends together to celebrate the arrival of Spring and the renewal of life. It is a reminder of the enduring spirit of the Persian-speaking world and the importance of tradition and culture in our lives.

the tradition of making a tie on a green (سبزه گره زدن) on Sizdeh Bedar for unmarried girls is another cherished tradition in Iran and other Persian-speaking countries. This tradition is known as “Sabzeh gereh zadan.

On Sizdah Bedar, unmarried girls  tie a knot on a green plant, usually Sabzeh or a tree branch. The knot is believed to bring good luck and help the girls find a suitable partner and get married in the coming year. It is a fun and lighthearted tradition that is enjoyed by young unmarried girls. It is a way of celebrating the arrival of Spring and the renewal of life while also expressing hopes and dreams for the future.

It is believed that staying indoors on Sizdah Bedar brings bad luck for the rest of the year.

Noruz is an essential celebration for Iranians and other Persian-speaking people. It is a time of renewal, rejuvenation, and a celebration of the arrival of Spring. From the preparations, the Haft Seen table, the traditional New Year’s feast, gift-giving, and the two-week-long festival, Noruz represents the cultural identity and traditions of Iran and the Persian-speaking world.

Despite its ancient roots, Noruz remains a relevant and significant celebration today. It continues to be celebrated in many parts of the world and has even been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Noruz is an excellent example of how a celebration can evolve and adapt over time, while still retaining its cultural significance and relevance.

Noruz is more than just a New Year celebration; it is a celebration of new beginnings, hope, and happiness. It represents the enduring spirit of the Persian-speaking world and the importance of tradition, culture, and community.