Iranian New Year

“Iranian New Year is on the first day of Spring, and this year it was March 23. We celebrate with a table that a bunch of symbols on it. There is “7 Seen” which are 7 things that start with the letter S. They are also 7 things you want for the new year. They could be representative like a flower for life, an apple for health, coins for wealth and these words start with S in farsi. There’s a goldfish to symbolize life; that doesn’t really start with S, but it’s there. There is also a holy book, and it could be whatever religion you do.

There is one specific time for it to be celebrated everywhere, like the idea that the time celebrated here is at the exact same time celebrated there. We give gifts and cash, and the bills must be new. For food, we eat fish and rice the night before New Years and the day after it. School’s off cause it’s a national holiday, and we get 2 weeks off. This comes later, but the 13th day after New Years is Sizdah Bedar, or Nature Day, when we’re supposed to spend time outside in nature, like go on a picnic with your family.”

This way of celebrating the New Year seems to be greatly focused on new life and beginning, rather than looking back or appreciating the past. This is appropriate for its timing in the Spring, which differs from other cultures especially in the Western World that have their New Year celebrations in the middle of Winter. The Iranian occasion of Nature Day also stems from that outlook. What is perhaps unique to this ritual is the presence of fish, whether physically prepared for food, or symbolically there to represent life. This may be because Iran is bordered by the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, and fishing was one of the earliest and quickest forms of protein in that area in the Middle East. By that idea, fishing was originally the best way to feed and sustain a lot of people, which is necessary for holiday celebrations and has taken on the meaning of life itself.