Please enjoy our video about how we celebrate nowruz in the Shams/Gannon family. Scroll below to read other tips and more information about this most important Persian holiday!
Nowruz (literally 'new day') is the most important holiday in Iranian culture, and occurs on the first day of spring each year. It's an ancient Persian holiday, and doesn't have any religious affiliations, so anyone can celebrate! As the ice and cold of winter melts away, and earth welcomes spring, it really feels like a new year for the whole world. Here are a few simple ways we celebrate the holiday, and you could try celebrating in these ways as well!
Make a haft seen table
Every year for nowruz Iranians set a table with items symbolizing the new year, and the health, vitality and productivity that they wish for the coming year to bring, including seven items that begin with the letter seen. This table is called haft seen because on the table there are (at least) seven items that begin with the Persian letter seen. These include seeb (apple), seer (garlic), serké (vinegar), somāgh (sumac), senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree), samanoo (sweet wheatgrass paste), and sabzeé (wheatgrass). Each of these has a symbolic meaning corresponding to spring, and the health and vitality that one wishes spring to bring. The table also has many items not beginning with the letter 'seen', but that symbolize wishes for the new year such as coins (hoping for wealth), eggs (hoping for fertility), sweets and nuts (hoping for abundance), a mirror (symbolizing infinity and eternity), and a sacred book of poetry or a religious text.
Clean the entire house
In the tradition of nowruz, spring cleaning takes on a spiritual meaning- it physically embodies renewing one's being in the new year. Everything in the house must be exposed to sunlight, all the corners and nooks and crannies must be cleaned, all the old must be tossed, and the new brought to the forefront. The house cleaning is called khooné takoonee, meaning shaking of the house, and often takes weeks to complete, as it is incredibly thorough- including giving rooms a new coat of paint if they need!
Wear brand new clothing
At the moment of the vernal equinox, it's important to be showered, fresh and clean, with new clothing from top to bottom (including new underwear). This again symbolizes the renewing of the spirit- the trees are all adorned with new leaves and blossoms- we must do the same!
See all your family, friends, acquiantances
Nowruz is celebrated for the 13 days following the first day of spring, and Iranians generally have all 13 days as a holiday from work. In these 13 days, we celebrate by eating, relaxing, and by visiting all of our loved ones. The tradition deed o bāz deed means 'to see and see again', and means just that- in the 13 days following the new year, you must go visit all your family, friends, and acquiantances, and they in turn must come to visit you. During these visits, you catch up, have tea, and munch on pastries. Usually elder family members are visited first, and you eventually get to everyone on your list as the days go on!
Set aside all your differences and come together, eat, drink, and be merry!
Nowruz is really all about rediscovering the joy of life, and this includes setting aside any negativity or sense of regret or unifinished business that has been weighing you down over the past year. There are certain foods that are associated with this time of year, and every house is full of an abundant amount of freshly prepared dishes made for sharing with family and friends.
And on the 13th day, we picnic!
As in many other cultures, the number 13 signifies bad luck in the Persian culture- and it is bad luck to spend any part of the thirteenth day after the nowruz holiday inside. For this reason, Iranians celebrate the 13th day of the holiday, called seezdah bedar, by spending the entire day outdoors, with plenty of food for picnics, plenty of games to pass the time, and blankets to take naps on!
The holiday is celebrated at the exact same moment everywhere in the world, so we hope that wherever in the world you are, you have a wonderful nowruz. And tell everyone you know- nowruz mobārak!