To all our Iranian peeps, as well as the Kurds, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Ismailis, Alevis, Alawites, Babis, Bahá'ís, and many of the brave folks in Crimea and elsewhere throughout the world, NOWRUZ PIROUZ!
To everyone else, 12:57pm EST marks the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and the new year ("Now-ruz" = "New day"). If you slacked off for 2014 or Chinese New Year, here's your chance to start anew, along with the earth and the moon and the stars. This is a secular holiday and should be honored and celebrated by everyone who lives on earth. Everyone gets the same amount of sun today. The theme is action, vitality, courage. Fertility, creativity, hope.
Clean your house, clean your head, take a deep breath, and be good to yourself and others, near and far, in 1393. Move in motion with the universe, and your heart and home will be in balance and harmony.
-Written by Mahshad Vakili
We here at Chai and Conversation have compiled a list of the essential things you need to do for this wonderful holiday.
1. Make a haft seen table
The haft seen table is an altar designed for the New Year. It's placed in a prominent location in the home, and consists of seven items that begin with the letter 'seen' in the Persian langauge (this is where the name 'haft seen' or 'seven seens' comes from). These items are all associated with rebirth, fertility, health and vitality. In addition to the haft seens, the table has a mirror to symbolize eternity, goldfish to symbolize life, coins to symbolize wealth, and several other symbolic items. To see more, check out this video we made three years ago explaining all the items on the table in detail.
2. Clean your house and every single thing you own
Iranians take spring cleaning to an extreme level with the concept of khooné takoonee, literally, shaking of the house. Before the moment of the new year, every thing in the house is completely cleaned and renewed. Old items are discarded and replaced with fresh ones. Those long neglected baseboards and blinds are swept and cleaned. This extends to cars and other possessions as well. Basically, it's time to take the demons out of the closet and let them see the sunlight!
3. Wear completely brand new clothing (including underwear!)
Nowruz is the time to begin fresh and clean, and this includes buying all new clothing to symbolize this fresh start. At the moment of the new year (this year at 12:57pm EST), everything worn must be brand new.
4. Celebrate starting at 12:57pm EST
At 12:57pm EST, gather around the haft seen table with close friends and family and feel the earth pass through the equinox, letting out a collective sigh knowing that the long winter is finally over and flowers will begin to bloom.
5. Call everyone you know to wish them a happy new year
It's extremely important to get in touch with everyone you know after nowruz to wish them a happy new year. You can use the phrase nowruz mobarak to say happy new year, nowruz pirouz, meaning may it be a victorious new year, or aidé shomā mobarak, also meaning happy new year. It's time to let all your friends and family know that you are thinking of them.
6. See everyone you know, and then see them again
Deed ō bāz deed is an extremely important new year concept translated as 'to see and see again'. According to tradition, during the 13 days after the new year (and yes, Iranians have 13 full days off of work for the holidy), you need to visit all of your friends and family, and they in turn need to come and visit you. You begin by going to the elder family member's houses, and work your way through all other famly, friends, and acquaintences. Often, elder family members will have days when they 'sit'- meaning they will be home all day and their doors will be open to visitors. Homes must be well equipped with sheereenee (pastries and sweets) and chai for all the guests.
7. Have a joyous and prosperous 1393!
Yes, Iran is on a different calendar than the West, and this is most evident in the fact that we are now in the year 1393. The year is based on the Islamic calendar, while the months are defined by the astronomical vernal equinox, meaning the first day of the year is also the first day of spring, and the months correspond with the seasons.
And that's it, 7 things you definitely need to do for the Persian new year. What's your way to celebrate the new year? Let us know in the comments below!
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