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A look into the Iranian culture

Keeping up with the

Iranians Pronounced (ee-ron-ee-ans)

By: Nusheen Goshtasbi and Mina Noohi

Table of Contents Relations between Iran and 3 Purpose and 5 6-7 8-9 10-11 11 12 13-14 Iranians at UC 15 Works 16


Background on Iran

and Iranian relations with America Relations between Iran and America have been heating up for roughly fifty years. With each year that passes, new conflicts have been formed and more problems have arisen. These conflicts have made America’s view on Iran and Iranians quite negative, especially with the media’s portrayl of the country.

1979 Hostage Crisis:

During the Carter Administration, 52 Americans were held hostage in Tehran. U.S. suspended oil imports from Iran and froze billions of dollars in Iranian assets. In 1981, they were released the moment President Reagan signed into presidency.

1988 Tensions in the Persian Gulf:

The U.S. Navy accidentaly shot an Iranian commercial jet carrying 290 passengers and crew. The U.S., who accidentally mistook the plane for a military jet, refused to apologize or admit any wrongdoing. 1995 Economic Sanctions: The Clinton administration prohibited American companies from doing business with Iran, in addition to any financing or development of Iran’s oil and gas sector.

2002 President Bush Address:

After Iran had supported the Northern Alliance after the 9/11 attacks and agreed to repatriate nearly one million Afghan refugees in Iran, President Bush labeled Iran as part of the “Axis of Evil.”

2006 Ahmadinejad’s Letter:

Ahmadinejad, Iran’s Presidnet, sent a 18 page letter to President Bush. The letter accuses Bush of committing untold atrocities in Iraq and invoking his Christian heritage to change course there. It also dipped into conspiracy theories, including suggestions that the U.S. government was withholding details about 9/11.

2009 Uranium:

Iran admits that it is building a uranium enrichment plant near Qom, but insists it is for peaceful purposes. Furthermore, Iran refuses to accept the international proposal to end the dispute over its nuclear program. (Beehner)


Further explanation and interpretation: Media’s Myths:

It is not too hard to see, through the previous examples, why Americans have developed a negative image of Iranians. However, media has played a crucial role in shaping and altering these perceptions.

For example, American media has exaggerated things like Iran’s Nuclear Program and aggressors in the Middle East. These exaggerations have led world leaders to put a magnifying glass on Iran’s actions.

This is where the problem has risen: with American media altering the image of Iran, many Americans have developed their own opinion of Iranians without any further facts than the media itself. If Americans continue trusting everything the media says about Iran, especially at a time when relations between America and the Middle East are weak, Americans will be at a loss for accurate information about the country and its inhabitants. Americans will continue to be looked upon as uninformed by other countries if they continue believing everything the media says.


Purpose and intentions:

American media has altered Iranians’ image so much that many seem to be timid when it comes to learning about the Iranian heritage because of what they have heard on the news. In this magazine, we aim to give you, our reader, a better understanding of the Persian culture from first-hand experience. We hope you will look at it with an open mind and not trust everything that you have heard in the media regarding Iran. We have a great culture that we truly enjoy sharing with others. We do not want to emphasize politics in the magazine, rather we will just focus on the cultural aspects of the Iranian hertiage.


Traditional Clothing - ‫محلی‬

‫ لباس‬-

Lebas Mahali - cultural apparel -

This is the apparel that Iranians traditionally wore. Depending on what region of Iran they were from, the clothing altered to suit their needs. Typically the clothing consisted of:

-colorful apparel -flowly matieral -clothing has many layers For Men: -Pants -Vests -small circular hats

For Women: -long dresses -high-waisted skirts -scarfs (to protect hair from dirt) -Wide sleeves (to allow easy movement of hands when working)

Remember that this apparel is traditional clothing and is not worn on an every day basis anymore. For special occasions, or when performing traditional Iranian dances, this apparel is worn.


Today’s Clothing

Currently in Iran, Iranians wear quite different apparel, as seen in the media. This is because Iran operates under an Islamic code. After Shah Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in 1979, women were no longer considered equal under the Iranian constitution. The constitution now adheres to Sharia law, the Islamic moral code based on the Koran. This code states that: “all civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria” (Celizic). Under this law, women--regardless of their religion or status--MUST wear certain apparel mandated by Sharia Islamic law. This law is the reason many Iranians have fled from Iran to seek the social freedom they used to have. FEMALE: 1. Head : Hair should be covered. Scarves are typically used to cover hair. In Persian these scarves are called “Roosari” (‫)روسری‬.

MALE: -Shorts are not acceptable. -T-shirts are acceptable.

2. Body : Should be covered with loose clothes and arms should not be bare. 3. Legs & feet : Legs should be covered down to ankles.

The clothing the women on the far right picture are wearing is called Hijab or “chador.” Muslim women are told in the Koran to dress modestly in public and not display their beauty to anyone except their fathers, mothers, husbands, sisters, brothers, sons, and dauthers. This is a choice that Muslims make, as not all of them believe they must cover all their body. Many muslims wearing this attire can be seen in Iran because it is a muslim-run country.



In many cultures, especially the Iranian culture, food is a main part of the culture and tradition.

The main dishes in the Iranian culture are:













(a culinary (rice that can (meat--chick- (Iranian stew created be garnished en, lamb, beef- soups are com-that is typi- posed of meat, with meat and with herbs, cally cooked on vegetables, some other spices, and grains, herbs, a skewer in a type of ingre- legumes) legumes, onrow) dient) ions, spices)

Our favorite recipes: Khoresh Bademjoon -

‫خورشت بادمجون‬

2 pounds eggplant 1 pound meat 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons crushed lemons ½ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon salt

Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi -

‫خورشت قورمه سبزی‬

1 pound meat 2 pounds of parsley and green onion 2 tablespoon tomatoe paste 5 dry lemons 2 spoons crushed lemon 1 can of red kidney beans ½ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon salt



Bread (naan)


(Sangak, labash, and barbary are just a few types of bread that Iranians enjoy)

Khoresh Karafz -

‫خورشت کرفس‬

2 pounds celery 1 pound meat 2 tablespoon tomato paste ¼ cup oil 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 1/8 cup lemon juice 2 bunches of parsley 1 bunch of fresh mint

Salad Shirazi

‫ساالد شیرازی‬ -5 Persian cucumbers (or 2 English cucumbers, the idea is to use seedless cucumbers) -4 round tomatoes -1 medium red onion -1/2 cup fresh lime juice -1 tbsp dry mint -1 tbsp oil (optional) -salt & pepper

Salad Olivieh

‫ساالد الویه‬

-3 medium large potatoes, cooked -3 eggs, hard boiled -2 cups shredded chicken -2 cups frozen peas and carrots -19 oz can of Persian pickles Dressing -2 cups mayonnaise -1/4 cup lemon juice -2 tsp mustard -1/8 cup olive oil -salt & pepper




‫تعارف‬ In the Iranian culture we have something that is called “tarof.” Tarof is difficult to explain in English, however the easiest way to explain it as comedian Omid Djalili “tarof is a cultural tradition where you must never ever except anything unless it’s offered three times… it shows dignity and restraint” (“Iranian Tradition Called ‘’Tarof’’). For example: If you are at your aunt’s house and she offers you some fruits or pastries the general response after the first time she offers them to you is “No thank you. I’m fine.” However, she doesn’t give up. After her persistence, by the third time, you are permitted (or forced) to take what she is offering you.


Iranian goodbyes on the telephone and in person last anywhere from ten minutes to one hour. Goodbye conversations are quite endless. This is how a typical goodbye would go: Parent 1: It was very nice to see you again. Thank you for the food and tea, we hope to see you again. Next time at my house. Parent 2: Oh don’t go, please you just go here [yeah… five hours ago]. Parent 1: No, it is getting late and my husband has to drive home and we have work in the morning. Parent 2: It will only be for one more hour, there is no harm in that. Come sit and drink more tea. Parent 1: [Awkwardly walk towards door… however they talk for another fifteen minutes about anything]. *while they stand by the door they begin to summarize essentially everything they already talked about and continue to fight back and forth about leaving or not, while the children stand in the corner rolling their eyes.


Greeting Kisses

When walking into another person’s house, women and men greet each other by kissing each other’s cheek. The kisses range from two times to three times. Then there is that fatal moment when you only kiss twice but the other person kisses three times, so you have that awkward facial jerk. Sometimes, being a child traps you into cheek pinching. This act is hurtful and scarring. The older female typically pinches your cheek while saying “Ey joon. Mashalah cheghad bozorg shodi. Kheli khoshgele shodi. Delam tang shod.” In translation this means “Oh sweetie. Look how much you have grown. You are so pretty. I miss you.”

Popular Music Persian music for the most part is upbeat, easy to dance too, and uses a variety of ancient Iranian instruments (like the santoor- pictured on right). The most famous Iranian singers of today are Ebi, Dariush, Googoosh, Kamron &Hooman, Arash, Zed Bazi, and Tataloo.

Kamron &Hooman

Ebi, Dariush, and Googoosh are a part of the older generation of singers who have realivitley slower melodies with impactful meanings most of the time. Kamron & Hooman and Arash are a part of the newer generation who have songs with upbeat melodies that appeal to the younger generations. They mix English words and lyrics with Persian lyrics to appeal to their audience in both America and Iran. Zed Bazi and Tataloo are the Persian rappers. They rap Persian lyrics about nonsense and even have crude lyrics. Googoosh



“A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.� Iranians have developed these stereotypes over the years, especially with the surge of Iranians to America. The majority of the stereotypes we have listed are true to some degree amongst Iranians. Profession The stereotypic expectations of Iranian parents are for their children become doctors or business people. They do this because they want their children to be successful and well-educated. Cars The general stenotype for Iranian individuals is that they own a BMW or a Mercedes Benz. These are high-class cars that Persians are proud to drive in.

Nose Jobs The majority of Iranian women get nose jobs. Iranians are known for having extra-long, sloped, or pointy noses. Especially in Iran, where females must hide their hair and only display their faces in public, nose jobs are a facet women use to enhance their beauty.

Clothing Men and women typically dress in dark or black clothing.


Celebrations Norooz ‫نوروز‬ This is our Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of Spring which is March 20th of each year. The celebration symbolizes rebirth, renewal, and a new start. There is a symbolic table set up with seven items that begin with S that have a distinct meaning and are listed below:

‫شب یلدا‬ Shabe Yalda This is the longest night of the year, which occurs in mid-December. Iranians stay up all night while eating various fruits mainly anar (pomegranate) and hendoone (watermelon).

‫چهارشنبه سوری‬ Charshambe Soori Charshambe Soori is called this because charshambe means Wednesday in Persian. It is celebrated because it is the Wednesday before the new


Celebrations continued year (Norooz). The cultural way of celebrating this is by jumping over fire pits while saying a saying “zardie man az to, sorkhi e to az man,” translated to “my sickness into the fire and the fire take my sickness” ‫سیزده بدر‬ Sizdah Bedar Sizada means thirteen in Persian. This is celebrated on the thirteenth day after the new year (Norooz). Iranians gather at a park and have a picnic with family and friends. They also send their sabeh down their stream.

‫مهرگان‬ Mehregan: the celebration of harvest Mehregan marks the first day of the Autumn Equinox, when the day is approximately just as long as the night. This solar festival signifies the beginning of the harvest and, therefore, a celebration is traditionally held.Typically, a decorative table is assembled displaying a variety of grains which are symbolic of the beginning of a harvest, as well as hope for a good harvest. This year, Mehregan was celebrated in September. Today, Mehregan is celebrated with friends, dancing, food, and cultural performances. Most Persians celebrate Mehregan in parks all over Orange County, especially in Irvine.


Iranians at UC Irvine Iranian Student Union (ISU): This is the Iranian club on the UC Irvine campus. According to the ISU website online: “With UCI located in the most heavily populated Persian community outside of Iran, we hope to spread awareness of our traditions through philanthropic and cultural events. Our group aims to bring together Iranian-Americans and non-Iranians alike, to celebrate and embrace our lavish heritage while promoting a strong sense of identity and community.� ( ISU Culture Show: Each year the club hosts a culture show in May on the UC Irvine campus. This cultural show consists of Iranian dances, comdedy, and music. These are great resources on the UC Irvine campus if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of the Iranian culture.

Final thoughts We hope we have given you a better understanding of the Iranian culture. Remember that the American media can distort truths and fabricate lies about other countries and cultures. It is up to you, as an educated citizen, to find credible information about the world around you. We appreciate the time you have spent to look through this magazine.


Works Cited

Beehner, Lionel. «Timeline: U.S.-Iran Contacts.» Http:// timeline-us-iran-contacts/p12806. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. Celizic, Mike. “Beyond the Veil: Lives of Women in Iran - TODAY in Iran -” Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Al Roker, Natalie Morales - TODAY Show Video, News, Recipes, Health, Pets. Web. 26 Nov. 2011. < iran/t/beyond-veil-lives-women-iran/>. “Iranian Tradition Called ‘’Tarof’’ - YouTube.” YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. < watch?v=lbs_2tK2muE>.


FINAL: Keeping Up With the Iranians  
FINAL: Keeping Up With the Iranians