The following informant is a 22-year-old Persian-American women from Southern California. In this account she is describing a tradition that is done before Persian New Year (Nowruz). This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as S and I am identified as K:
S: For Persian New Year, what you do like the Wednesday before, is you jump over fire. The point is to basically like ward off the bad vibes of the past, and like my parents told me that if I ever don’t jump over the fire then, like you don’t actually go into the New Year with bad vibes, but like the bad vibes are going to be more prominent. So, I will always try to go to whoever’s house to jump over fire, because you know, bad vibes.
K: So do you normally go to your family’s house?
S: Yeah or like, this year I jumped over a candle with my friend, still works
K: Do all Persians partake in this tradition, or is it a specific to Persian-Americans
S: Yeah, all Persians do it, or like 70… 80… like 90%
K: Do you have to do it in a group or can you do it by yourself?
S: No, you can do it by yourself, but it’s just more fun to do it with your family. So that you can jump with someone else, so you are both leaving bad vibes in the past, that is like what typically happens.
K: What does it mean to you, to partake in the tradition?
S: Um, I don’t really believe that you actually leave bad vibes back in that sense, like you don’t have to jump over fire to get rid of the bad vibes of the past year. But I think it is a fun way of keeping a tradition, a cultural tradition alive. So, to me it’s just a fun cultural activity, and even though a lot of Persians don’t live in Iran, they still do it.
This conversation took place at a café one evening. I was visiting the informant at USD, and after providing a different collection of folklore, she continued on to talk about this tradition. The conversation was recorded and transcribed
I think it is a wonderful tradition. As the informant describes you don’t actually have to believe in its ability to ward off, as she says, “bad vibes” in order to participate. Any Persian can participate anywhere in the world, but still feel connected to one another.