Speak / Lesson 71

Nowruz (Vocabulary Sprint)

In this lesson, we go over vocabulary associated with the most important Persian holiday, Nowruz. We'll learn about the haft seen table, and the items associated with the haft seen table. In addition, we'll learn a few different ways to wish people a happy Nowruz holiday, including 'aidé shomā mobārak' and 'nowruz mobārak'.

Also, check out our Complete Guide to Living Your Best Nowruz for day to day instructions on how to have the best Nowruz ever!


how are you?

Note: In Persian, as in many other languages, there is a formal and an informal way of speaking. We will be covering this in more detail in later lessons. For now, however, chetor-ee is the informal way of asking someone how they are, so it should only be used with people that you are familiar with. hālé shomā chetor-é is the formal expression for ‘how are you.’

Spelling note: In written Persian, words are not capitalized. For this reason, we do not capitalize Persian words written in phonetic English in the guides.


I’m well

Pronunciation tip: kh is one of two unique sounds in the Persian language that is not used in the English language. It should be repeated daily until mastered, as it is essential to successfully speak Persian. Listen to the podcast for more information on how to make the sound.

Persian English
salām hello
chetor-ee how are you?
khoobam I’m well
merci thank you
khayli very
khayli khoobam I’m very well
khoob neestam I’m not well
man me/I
bad neestam I’m not bad
ālee great
chetor-een? how are you? (formal)
hālé shomā chetor-é? how are you? (formal)
hālet chetor-é? how are you? (informal)
khoob-ee? are you well? (informal)
mamnoonam thank you
chetor peesh meeré? how’s it going?
ché khabar? what’s the news? (what’s up?)

Leyla: Hello and welcome to lesson 80 of learn Persian with China conversation. My name is Leyla and I'm your teacher for the course

Chris: My name is Chris and I'll be learning Persian along with you.

Leyla: And this is actually a bonus vocabulary sprint that we are doing. We're in the vocabulary sprint unit, which means that we are going to be learning a large number of vocabulary words to add to your tool belt. But in this episode, we have decided to focus on a very special holiday happening this month. If you're following us in real time, it's March, which means the first day of spring is coming up very soon.

Chris: It also means South by Southwest if you're in Austin.

Leyla: That's true. This is this all coincides to make this the most Exciting month of the year. But what is going on this month? Chris?

Chris: This is nowruz.

Leyla: That's right and nowruz is the most important holiday for, for Iranians. It means new day and it is the first day of spring the first day of our new year. And so we will be celebrating that here in Austin or wherever we are. In this episode we're going to learn vocabulary associated with nervous so let's go ahead and get started. Are you ready to begin?

Chris: I'm ready.

Leyla: Great. Then let's begin to learn Persian with China conversation. Okay, so first of all our big vocabulary word of this lesson is the word  nowruz

Chris: nowruz

Leyla: and that is the holiday and it means literally new day now is new. No.

Chris: no

Leyla: and day is  ruz

Chris: ruz, and if you've been following along, we covered time and how you count time in our last vocabulary sprint. So you remember, rooz was day Rooz is also the name of our son.

Leyla: That's right. So no rules, nowuz , the name of our holiday this month, and it happens on the first day of spring. So this year, it happens to be March 19. But it's the moment that the earth interest the equinox that happens at the same time, all throughout the world. So it's not like the American or the Western New Year where it happens whenever you cross. 12 o'clock. It actually happens when the earth passes the equinox, which happens at the same exact moment for everyone on Earth.

Chris: That's right

Leyla: in the Northern Hemisphere. Sorry, I should point that out. That's when they pass spring. I have no idea what people do in the southern hemisphere.

Chris: It's the fall equinox, right?

Leyla: But what do Iranians in the southern hemisphere do for?

Chris: It's a different concept.

Leyla: Why are they there? Australian Iranian friends,

Chris: right if if there are. Any southern hemisphere, Iranians or people familiar with the Iranian culture and living in the southern hemisphere, ple ase let us know how nowruz  is shaped left not as a spring holiday as is here but as a fall holiday.

Leyla: That's right. So then there's nowruz and then the word for the full holidays aideh nowruz

Chris: aideh nowruz

Leyla: and aide is just a celebration or festival. So aideh nowruz.

Chris: aideh nowruz

Leyla: the celebration of the new day. So the holiday last for 13 days. So we covered the word day again rooz. So 13 days is 13 rooz.

Chris: seezdah rooz

Leyla: And it's important to know that word sees that because on the 13th day it's called seezdah bedar

Chris: seezdah bedar

Leyla: And that's one of the traditions were on the 13th day after the after spring. You Go outside and you spend the entire day outside and that holiday is called seezdah bedar

Chris: seezdah bedar

Leyla: But getting back to know who's one of the things that you do for nowruz is you set up a table and that table is kind of an altar to spring. And there are certain symbolic elements on the table. So you can think of it as our Christmas tree our focal point for the holiday, and it's called, sofreyeh haft seen

Chris: sofreyeh haft seen

Leyla: sofreyeh means table and haft seen simply means seven s's. So haftseen means 7 s's and that is seven symbolic items that start with the letter seen in in the persian alphabet and they all symbolize spring so let's go over a few of those. The word seeb

Chris: seeb

Leyla: means apple and that's you know a fruit it symbolizes spring The sweetness coming up the new year there's seer

Chris: seer

Leyla: which is garlic and that's for health. There's senjed

Chris: senjed

Leyla: which is these fruits have a certain type of a tree that also symbolizes sweet fruit and health. There's Somaghk,

Chris: somagh

Leyla: which is sumac.

Chris: Okay, does that symbolize the fruit of a tree?

Leyla: They all symbolize the coming into the new year and fruits and trees. Then serkeh which is vinegar

Chris: serkeh

Leyla: so symbolizing, cleanliness and happiness.

Chris: Okay, can you say that word again?

Leyla: serkeh

Chris: serkeh

Leyla: Yes. And then there's sabzeh

Chris: sabzeh

Leyla: which maybe you Know, we've covered it in a few lessons that is greens. That's right

Chris: and greens,

Leyla: and for the sabzehWe usually grow wheat grass, or we take mung beans and sprout them. It's just some sort of sprout and again, symbolizing,

Chris: you know, the renewal of life

Leyla: exactly sprouts coming to life. And then the last seen, samanu,

Chris: samanu

Leyla: and samanoo is sweet putting that's made. It's very labor intensive, that again, symbolizing sweetness. It's something that you that that you spend a lot of time making for this new year. So it sounds like all of these seven items. They they all serve revolve around the concept of renewal springtime sweetness. That's right. And so you also have other items on the on the table that symbolize these like an egg

Chris: egg. That's right. Yes.

Leyla: And so that again, is a very, you know, we have that for easter as well. It's a big symbol of fertility of the new year, new life coming about,

Chris: isn't there something about when the egg flips?

Leyla: Well, one of the myths of the new year is that when the earth enters the equinox, you put that egg on top of a mirror, which isn't also another important thing for the table. And the egg is supposed to move when the earth but you know, the Earth is constantly in motion. So it's not really true. That Yeah, the mirror is another important thing on the table to

Chris: symbolizing infinity.

Leyla: Exactly infinity. There's candles that that same thing like infinity, fire burning, there's always a book on there. That's important. Sometimes people put the quran sometimes they put books of poetry if they're more secular. And also, there's flowers on the table, lots of flowers.

Chris: There's gold on the table as well. That's

Leyla: That's right, symbolizing affluence. So

Chris: what is and what is the word for gold

Leyla: tala

Chris: Tala.

Leyla: That's right.

Chris: How about flowers?

Leyla: Well, the certain flower that's there is usually the sombol.

Chris: Sombol

Leyla: sombol

Chris: sombol,

Leyla: which is the highest. Yeah, so these are very traditional tulips and hyacinth so you know traditional spring table so basically you're making an altar to spring

Chris: I love it with this table so and and and just to cover a few of these a few more of these egg

Leyla: yes it's tokhmeh morgh

Chris: tokhmeh morgh

Leyla: there's the mirror, ayeeneh

Chris: ayeeneh

Leyla: and the candles Shamdoon

Chris: Shamdoon

Leyla: to the Shamdoon is a candle holder. So ayeeneh o shamdoon

Chris: ayeeneh, Sham doing

Leyla: so I know I'm doing the mirror and candlesticks which is very important part. But now let's get into some of the traditions of nowruz. So you have this altar, so that's important. Then you also have deed o baz deed, which is my favorite

Chris: deed o baz deed

Leyla: that just means to see and see again,

Chris: this is truly a really fun tradition where, in those 13 days of nowruz, it is required that you go, you see all the people in your community, in your family, your friends, and traditionally, the older generation will host the first deed o baz deed. And they'll have everyone over to their house and they'll open it up. And this might be on day one or two is the older generation. And then as you go along, the younger generation, will will host people at their house. It's a way to go and you see people and then you see them again when they come to your house.

Leyla: That's right. It is a very fun, it's a very social holiday. So you'll see people that you haven't seen throughout the year you think maybe you should have kept up with better, but a lot of times it'll remind you of who you love to see more Throughout theyear,

Chris: that's right and it symbolizes sweet fruit in this.

There's also another tradition called khooneh takoonee

Chris: khooneh takoonee

Leyla: which you spend the time leading up to the notice holiday cleaning, ceiling to ground of your house and khooneh takoonee literally means shaking of the house khooneh takoonee

Chris: khooneh takoonee

Leyla: khoo neh takoonee. so shaking of the house so you have to clean all that like turnover everything in your house. Really get it clean, like not just surface cleaning. And you know throw away all your old things. Make sure everything is like fresh and renewed

Chris: spring cleaning.

Leyla: It is spring cleaning is

Chris: that ultimate tradition of spring clean

Leyla: exactly into that front. You're also supposed to get new clothes which is one of our favorite things to do for the notice holiday. So you're supposed to get new clothing all the way down to your underwear. So lebaseh now.

Chris: Lebaseh now. and and, and and what does well we already went over no as in nowruz

Leyla: Another important thing for news is to give presents and those presents are called aidee

Chris: aidee

Leyla: and generally that's just cash that older people give to younger people in a little envelope so they give the younger people AD AD and on the day of new year as soon as the earth equals interest, the equinox and it's the notice you get together with your closest family and friends and you eat sabzi Polo

Chris: sabzi polo

Leyla: ba mahi

Chris: ba mahi

Leyla: so what is Mahi?

Chris: Well that's fish.

Leyla: That's right and sabzi polo is

Chris: greens and rice.

Leyla: That's right. So you have a herb rice and then Mahi and whole fish and you eat that with your family

Chris: so sabzi green Polo rice. Ba mahi is with a fish that's right greens rice with a fish

Leyla: and everybody has a bunch of sweets in their house obviously sheereenee.

Chris: Sheereenee

Leyla: sheereen is the word for sweet

Chris: Shireen.

Yeah, so sheereenee

Chris: sheereenee

Leyla: and that means sweets and so you make a bunch of sweets and then when people come for deed o baz deed you have some chai and sheereenee

Chris: chai and sheereenee. That should be I should be day one with chai and conversation. That's

Leyla: right. So try and shoot a me and you invite all your friends and family to your house to have chai and sheereenee

Chris: And there's another tradition for nowruz that is fun where everyone has a goldfish.

Leyla: This is one sad tradition of murders unless you keep up with the gold fish but we're trying to get away with that. Get away from that sorry get away from killing so many goldfish for nowruz

Chris: the goldfish does. There's not like it's not a sacrifice you don't have to kill the goldfish but traditionally, I guess from what I understand that the goldfish symbolizes fruit in the new year and and then after, no ruse nobody knows what to do with the goldfish

Leyla: We're really supposed to take good care of them, but lately they haven't been selling his goldfish anymore in store, so we're

Chris: not even gonna cover it right? We're gonna talk about it on this podcast.

Leyla: Anyway. Okay, so another tradition I wanted to talk about. I want to go little bit backwards the Wednesday night before. The notice is also really important holiday and that is called char shambeh

Chris: char shambeh

Leyla: Sooree

Chris: Sooree. And if you  listen to our time and date episode. char shamba is Wednesday so chahar shambeh

chahar shambeh

Leyla: sooree

Chris: sooree

Leyla: is like a soiree. sooree same word sooree

Chris: sooree

Leyla: That's right. So char shambeh sooree, Wednesday as soiree and it actually happens the night before Wednesday so Tuesday night before New Year the last Tuesday of the New Year. Everyone gets together and they jump over a fire.

Chris: Oh right. This is such a fun tradition.

Leyla: ateesh is fire

Chris: ateesh

Chris: Yes. And then you tell the you Think of all the things that have bothered you over the past year all your misery and all your bad health and everything

Leyla: that guy that cut you off when you were already late to work.

Chris: Yes, exactly. All that rage all that anger, all that stuff, you just give it to the fire and you let it go. You give it to the fire and you take the fires vitality and instead you use that to fuel you for the rest of the year and positively and you tell the fire sorkheeyeh man az to, sorkheeyeh to az man

Chris: sorkheeyeh man az to, sorkheeyeh to az man

Leyla: and that means my yellowness I give to you and I take your redness  And we do this every year, me and Chris and the family and now with the boys. We make a little fire and we jump over it.

Chris: We throw the boys over.

Leyla: Yeah, so we make sure to let go of all that for the past year and start the new year fresh. And so that's some of the traditions and let's end this episode. By learning a couple of ways you can tell your family happy nerves. The most common ways nowruz mobarak

Chris: Nowruz mobarak. That's right.

Leyla: So happy nowruz. Or you could say aideh shoma mobarak

Chris: aideh shoma mobarak

Leyla: That's right. And that means your your holiday. Be happy

Chris: that aidee means present though, right?

Leyla: Well a D means a present, but aid is just a celebration. Oh, yeah, it's just any holiday. It's called an aid. You can also say saleh now,

Chris: saleh now,

Leyla: mobarak. And that means Happy New Year. So his year might have learned in our last episode. saleh now

Chris: Sala know

Leyla: mobara

Chris: mobarak.

Leyla: So Happy New Year. So everyone, we hope you have a very good holiday season. There's tons of other we've done videos about this. We've done blog post about this. And now we're finally doing a podcast episode about it.

Chris: That's right. If you go to your local central market or Whole Foods if you're in Texas, you'll see a large display for nowruz. Where they have all the things that you might need.

Leyla: It's true. It's gaining traction in the West. Also go on our website so that you can find all of our other resources will have them linked to this podcast episode. You can watch our videos and read our blogs and be really prepared for this holiday and hopefully you'll partake in, you know, at least some part of it if not all of it. It's truly a joy.

Chris: That's right, put on some new undies clean your house and don't kill that fish.

Leyla: That's right. So thank you so much for listening to us and until next time for the hope is from Layla

Chris: khodahafez from Chris