A Short and Sweet Guide to Celebrating Chāhār Shanbé Sooree

Leyla Shams
March 13, 2016

What is Chāhār Shanbé Sooree?

Chāhār Shanbé Sooree is the celebration that takes place the Tuesday night before Persian New Year (the first day of Spring!). Literally translated, it means either Wednesday Soiree, or Red Wednesday, because the celebrations go on through the night into Wednesday morning! This year (2016), it will take place on Tuesday, March 15th.

At its core, the purpose of the party is to say goodbye to the previous year WITH A BANG, and welcome the new year with a clean and fresh start. You can celebrate this exciting holiday no matter where you are in the world.

Here’s a complete guide on how to do it:

1. Build a fire (or 3):

Of course, check your local regulations, but then feel free to ignore them. This is an important cultural tradition afterall! Generally, Iranians will make three or four medium sized fires in a row by piling wood and sticks together and lighting them with some fuel. The fires should be an appropriate height for jumping over (and usually they’re just big enough to make you a little nervous).

A little background: The fires form the central core of the holiday, and come from the Zoroastrian tradition. Zoroastrianism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion, and forms the basis of many traditions in Iranian culture. Fire was one of the most important elements in Zoroastrian tradition, and symbolically and literally comes into play often.

2. Give the fire the bad, take from the fire the good:

Take turns with family and friends jumping over the fire, while simultaneously saying the phrase ‘zardeeyé man az tō, sorkheeyé tō az man.' This phrase literally means ‘I give you my yellowness, I take from you your redness.’ This symbolic phrase is meant to make the mumping a purifying ritual- you are telling the fire to take your pallor and sickness, and in return give you redness- health, warmth and energy.

3. Let go of the past:

Along with letting go of sickness and welcoming health, jumping over the fire gives you a chance to let go of all the resentments of the past year and start fresh. As you jump over the fire, you should think about your regrets, anger, and disappointments of the last year, and exchange them for positive energy and passion from the fire. On a similar note, any grudges held towards friends, family or acquaintances should be exchanged for compassion and love from the fire.

4. Cleanse, clense, cleanse:

Overall, jumping over the fire can be quite a satisfying and cleansing ritual. You can take comfort in knowing that any negative feelings of the past year are buried with the winter, and a fresh start will be possible with the coming spring.

On that note, we wish you a wonderful end to the year 1394, and a great 1395 ahead!