Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Persian New Year (Holiday)

My informant is Grant, a 19-year-old male student at USC. Grant was born and raised in Los Angeles, however his father is from Iran and his mother is from Japan. Both of these cultures influence his life in different ways. This piece of folklore is a tradition performed on a holiday.

 

Grant: “Every year on the..uh..spring eclipse or whatever, around March 21st and we celebrate the rebirth and the growing and we have a lot of grass. We put out a table and you put down seven things on the the table that start with the letter ‘s’ in Farsi so like apples start with an ‘s’ and like a lot of sweets and sugars. It’s kind of symbolic of a sweeter new year. Then the tradition my family does every year is that we put the Persian holy book and my dad puts money in it in a lot of different places. So someone takes the book and flips through it getting money as they go and once you hit a certain amount you stop, its just a tradition we do…my dad says it’s always good to start the new year with money”

Do you open the book as many times as you want?

Grant: “Well when it’s your turn and you open it and if it’s low like a 1 or 5 or 10 then you take it and keep going but if it’s like a 50 or 100 you stop”

How long have you been doing this?

Grant: “We’ve done it as long as I can remember. We do it every year, I’m pretty sure my Dad has been doing it his whole life too learning it from his Dad”

Are you going to carry this tradition on?

Grant: “Yeah, probably it’s a fun thing to do”

Does this have any meaning to you?

Grant: “Well, I’m half- Persian so it’s celebrating that part of myself and then it’s just a nice thing I do with my family each year and I get money so that’s cool”

Do other Persian families do this too?

Grant: “Not that I know of”

 

This is a really good example of a holiday form of folklore. All around the world Persian families celebrate the New Year but the folklore is the specific traditions and manners in which these families celebrate. In Grant’s example, the folklore being passed on and performed each year is a game – one where you win money. To grant, this game is unique to his family, coming from his father and his father’s father, however it is very possible other families do the exact same thing or even with a slight variation. This is also a way for Grant to connect to his Persian roots; having being born and raised in America that part of his ancestry has received less attention but through the continued celebration and tradition on Persian New Year Grant can ensure this part of his family history and his culture endures. Especially when he already plans on passing this tradition down to his children.

 

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