Persian New Year


My informant shared with me some of the traditions her and her family celebrate during Persian New Year. According to my informant a few days before Nowruz (which in Farsi means new year), they set up a ceremonial table called a haf-seen.  In Farsi haf-seen literally means seven S’s. This haf-seen includes seven different plates which all have different items placed on them. The haf-seen is set up on a special cover, which is either placed on the floor or on top of a table. The symbolic dishes consist of Sabzeh, which are sprouts that represent rebirth, Samanu which is pudding that represents affluence, Seeb (apple) that represents health and beauty, Seer (garlic) which represents medicine, Somaq, which represents the color of sunrise, and Serkeh (vinegar), which represents age and patience. Other things are also set on the Sofreh, which is essentially the setting where the Haf-seen is set up, also includes other items. According to my informant some of these items may include coins which represent wealth, eggs which represent fertility, live gold fish which represent life, a mirror which represents images of creation, and two candle sticks which are places on both sides of the mirror that represent happiness and enlightenment.

My informant then went on to say that after the New Year is announced people hug and kiss, like Americans do on New Year. Then for a few days following the New Year people go to the homes of their family and friends, this is called Eid-Deedanee. The younger children receive money or presents from the adult’s whose home they are visiting. Usually money is kept in the Koran and children take money from it.

Also, traditionally on the night before New Year my informant and her family eat a traditional meal called Sabzi Pollo Mahi. This dish is a rice cooked with herbs, served with smoked fish. She said that it is common for Koukou Sabzi, which is a mixture of fresh herbs with eggs, which can either be fried or baked to also be served. In her family, her grandmother typically makes this meal, simple because she is the best chef in the family.

My informant then went on to talk about Seezdah Bedhar. She told me that on the thirteenth day of the New Year families usually go to the park where they have a picnic with their family and friends. At the end of the picnic you are supposed to throw out the sabzeh (which was part of the traditional haf-seen at home) the sabzeh is supposed to have collected all the sick and bad energy that was on the path of the family for the approaching year. My informant also told me that a popular tradition on Seezdah Bedhar is knotting the blades of grass by young unmarried girls in the hope to marry soon. Knotting the grass represents love and the bond between a man and a woman.