HOLIDAYS

Norouz

My 2003 Haft Sin

When you visit my blog you will soon notice that I celebrate a lot of holidays and that is because I grew up in a household were dad was Iranian and mom German. We just love to decorate and celebrate with family and friends whenever the opportunity arises. That said, it's time for Norouz on March 19th!

Norouz, is the new day or New Year celebration of the Iranians. It is a celebration of the 1st day of spring, the spring Equinox. It has been celebrated by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, such as the Sumerians, Babylonians and the Ancient Persia before the advent of Islam.

What I remember of Norouz, while living in Iran as a teen was that first just about every household underwent a thorough spring cleaning. Then everyone went Norouz clothes and shoes shopping. The Haft Sin (Literal translation 7 S's) would be set, sweets purchased and the count down to the 1st day of spring would start.

Haft Sîn (Persian: هفت سین) or the seven 'S's is a major tradition of Norouz, the traditional Persian new year. The haft sin table includes seven items specifically starting with the letter S or Sîn (س in the Persian alphabet). The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals protecting them. Originally called Haft Chin (هفت چین), the Haft Sin has evolved over time, but has kept its symbolism. Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a Haft Sîn table as they can, as it is not only of traditional and spiritual value, but also noticed by visitors during Norouzi visitations and is a reflection of their good taste.

The Haft Sin items are:

sabzeh - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth

samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence

senjed - the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love

sîr - garlic - symbolizing medicine

sîb - apples - symbolizing beauty and health

somaq - sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise

serkeh - vinegar - symbolizing age and patience

While traditionally incorrect, sometimes a missing Sin is exchanged with another item starting with an S. For example:

sonbol - the fragrant hyacinth flower (the coming of spring)

sekkeh - coins (prosperity and wealth)

Other items on the table may include:

traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi

dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)

lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)

a mirror

decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)

a bowl with goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)

a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)

rose water for its magical cleansing powers

the national colours, for a patriotic touch

the Qur'an (some also use the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafez)[1]

On the actual day of Norouz everyone would dress in their finest new garments and sit among relatives sipping tea and eating sweets waiting for the announcement on the radio or TV that the New Year has arrived. We usually put out an Orange in a bowl of water and it is said that when the year turns the Orange moves in the water. I have yet to catch it move, I am always to busy chatting and eating!

Anyhow, after the announcement everyone hugs each other and then the visiting starts. I never knew how my parents kept track who wanted to come to our house and to whose house we were going. Amidst all this hustle and bustle it was a wonder that no one ended up in front of a locked home. One of my other favorites was that as long as you were a younger person of the household, you could expect to receive Aidi. Rather than giving presents, elders give children either gold coins or actual money.

I remember the kids of the family gathering and counting out their moneys telling each other what they would do with all that new acquired wealth.

I still set up my Haft Sin and celebrate just as my parents used to. It's just too much fun not to!

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