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Pursuing Newness The Promise of Nowruz

Every spring season, Nowruz (pronounced no-rooz), which means “new day,” is celebrated by Persians and other nationalities in the region and around the world. The new year tradition has been observed on March 20 or 21 for more than 3,000 years and is a way to honor the beginning of spring. The celebration is filled with some of the most treasured things in life: symbolic rituals, flavorful food, well wishes, and gathering with family and friends. On March 21, 2010, the UN General Assembly officially proclaimed that date as International Nowruz Day. This year’s Persian New Year falls on Tuesday, March 21, with a variety of cultural customs that occur before and during the holiday.

A Fresh Start

Preparations are implemented 2-3 weeks prior to the holiday through rituals aimed at starting the new year with a clean slate. This is achieved through spring cleaning everything in your home, such as deep cleaning rugs, clearing cabinet interiors, and purging closets. Investing in new housewares and furniture to prepare for guests, purchasing new clothes, and buying flowers (hyacinth and tulips) are also common practices. The rituals are a symbolic way to signify leaving behind the disorder and discontent of the years past and beginning with a fresh start.

Spirit Of The Holiday

One of the most important ways to honor the holiday and launch the celebration is to prepare a Haft-sin table. In the Persian language Farsi, the word “haft” means seven and “sin” means the letter S. A Haft-sin table is created using seven “S” objects that symbolize life, health, abundance, and purity. The table may also contain items of significance to each family, but the must-have items are always included.

13 Days Of Celebration

The new year holiday is stretched over 13 days in Iran. On the last Tuesday of the year, Chaharshanbeh Suri is launched with an evening of singing and enjoying a bonfire. The celebration continues with the gathering of family and friends over feasts and gift giving. Special traditional dishes are prepared using herbed rice, fish (traditionally white Bass), herb frittata and Ash Reshteh (noodle soup), greens, and fresh herbs. A beef stew with mint, lime, and celery is another favorite dish. Baking homemade cookies and pastries are a tradition that starts a few weeks before Nowruz. The final day is called Sizdah Be Dar or Nature’s Day.. During Sizdah Be Dar, Persians celebrate by taking day trips outdoors to picnic and enjoy nature.

In the day-to-day hustle, it’s easy to overlook the gift of new beginnings we are offered throughout the year. For those in our local Persian community, it can be conflicting to enjoy our privileges and freedom when consumed by worry and concern for those experiencing hardship in Iran. But with the promise of renewal that Nowruz brings, there is always hope and togetherness to be celebrated.

The local Persian community dedicates this year’s Nowruz to all the brave women and men standing up against injustice in Iran, impacted by brutal violence in opposition to the Islamic Republic. Follow their efforts of being a voice for freedom.