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Persian New Year

In the following my informant recounts how he celebrates Persian New Year:

This other Persian tradition that I’m gonna describe has to do with Persian New Year, or, Norusnew day” as it’s said in Farsi. Persian New Year occurs on the first day of Spring, and there’s a lot of symbolism in that: Spring is the beginning of life, the flowers come to bloom, the air becomes filled with perfume, there is, um, an incoming of life into the world, and that’s why it’s considered the beginning of the year. Spiritually also in Islamic, Iranian tradition, religion is considered the coming of life and springtime, but that’s only somewhat related. Anyways, during this period of Norus, this is very similar to Christmas in a way where, there’s a gift giving and families come together, um, there’s many… it’s usually a very outdoorsy thing where you do pick-nicks and if it’s like Los Angeles where’s there’s a large Persian population, there will be crowds of thousands that come to a park and come and commemorate Norus, or new year together. The Christmas tree for Persians is the Haft sin, which means seven “s”. Sin is the letter S in farsi, and this haft sin is, usually you lay out a rug, or on a table you set out 7 objects that begin with  the letter S in Farsi, and each have a symbolism having to do with the new year. So you would put the seib, the apple which is, you know, health, and the sedecay which is vinegar  which is a symbol of fertility, secay which is, um, a coin and is a symbol of wealth, um, many similar things, so seven things that begin with the letter s. And I  don’t know them in farsi, but there are goldfish on the table, there are, uh, there’s like a sweet sugary paste, there’s garlic I believe, there’ a bed of wheat grass that the families grow themselves, there’s painted eggs, all these things have a symbolic nature to them and they’re presented on a table, and It becomes a very, there’s uh, the hyacinth flower, they all have a symbolism, and it becomes the center of a house and a place which is the representative of the holidays.

My informant tells me he has celebrated Persian New Year every since childhood, and has observed these celebrations firsthand several times, since, for him, it is a major celebration. He talked about how even in Los Angeles, Persian tradition is strong, and the preservation of so many specific customs is important for the overall preservation of the holiday.

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