The Spirit of Norooz

March 12, 2012

A new year is beginning for Iranians in a week from today. Norooz is the most important, exciting and fun celebration in Iran. As children; we couldn’t wait for the first three weeks of Esfand (last month in Iranian calender) to fly away so the fabulous Norooz festivities along with the equally fabulous two and a half weeks school break could begin. To adults, Norooz is lots of work, but mostly the cheerful kind.  

Norooz preparations start three to four weeks ahead by soaking a bowl of dry wheat or lentil to grow sabzeh (sprout), the centerpiece of the Haft Seen Spread.

Next,, the laborious Spring Cleaning consisting of relentless scrubbing of every corner of the house from bottom up, side to side and inside out would commence. Afterwards, everyone would get busy with baking the very special Norooz sweets or buying them from favorite bakeries, putting together all the essential participants for Haft Seen Spread and shopping for new clothes. Each element of Haft Seen Spread has a specific purpose and significance. 

  1. Sabzeh (sprouts, usually lentil or wheat): fertility and rebirth of nature
  2. Seeb (apple): natural beauty.
  3. Samanu (a pudding in which wheat sprouts are given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding): reward of patience
  4. Somaq (somaq berry used as spice): the color of sunrise
  5. Senjed (the sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree): love
  6. Serkeh (vinegar): age
  7. Seer (garlic): health
There are also other important objects to be included in the Haft Seen: a mirror representing the images and reflections of Creation that by Persian beliefs took place on the first day of spring; a pair of candles symbolizing enlightenment and happiness; Sonbol (Hyacinth) and other Spring flowers with their heavenly scent; Sekkeh (coins) for prosperity and wealth; painted eggs representing fertility; an orange placed in a bowl of water symbolizing the earth floating in space; goldfish swimming in water representing life and the end of astral year; rose water known for its magical cleansing power; and incenses to ward off evil spirits.
Another staple of Norooz is Amoo Norooz (similar to Santa Claus) who kicks out the winter cold and brings life to nature and warmth to every household. Iranian families anxiously gather around their Haft Seens at Saal-e Tahveel (the precise moment that the sun crosses the Equator and Spring begins) to wish each other a happy and prosperous New Year. 
Every culture has its own way of greeting the New Year. What they all have in common is the universal hope for better things and better days. I hope for the same while being thankful for what I already have and the opportunity to have another go at polishing the work in progress that is me.

© 2012, livingamused. All rights reserved.

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