What is the “Persian New Year”- “Nowruz”?

“Nowruz” literally means “new day,” and it marks the beginning of the Persian New Year in Iran’s official calendar. Most people in Iran call Nowruz, Eyd! Maybe it’s easier…? Not sure… I grew up in Iran-Tehran and moved to the US when I was 22. I was lucky to experience 22 “Nowruz” celebrations before I moved to the US!

What is on the Nowruz table? The Haftsin table is decorated with 7 items since 7 considered a lucky number. Each item begins with the letter “S” in Farsi and each item is a symbol of spring and renewal. These are the most popular 7 “S” on the Haftsin table!

  1. Somagh (Sumac- crushed spice of berries): Symbolizes the color or sunrise
  2. Senjed (sweet, dry fruit of the lotus tree) :Symbolizes love
  3. Sabzeh (wheatgrass seeds): Symbolizes rebirth
  4. Samano (a sweet pudding made from wheat germ): Symbolizes affluence
  5. Serkeh (vinegar): Symbolizes age and patience
  6. Sekeh (coins): Symbolizes money
  7. Sib (apple): symbolizes health

Iranian people tend to put other items such as a mirror, colored eggs, goldfish, candle, a bowl of water with an orange floating in it, hyacinth, and some traditional sweets and pastries.

What is the “Persian New Year”- “Nowruz”?

Let’s go through few quick Q & A about the Persian New Year:

  • How old is the Persian New Year? It is not known exactly how long the Nowruz has been celebrated for, but the best estimates guess it at over 3,000 years.
  • What do you say on Nowruz? Call everyone you know and wish them a happy new year! The tradition is younger people in the family, call the older family members and wish them a happy new year! Some families take this very serious (including my family)!!!! Hahaha! So make sure if you blend with a Persian family, don’t forget calling grandparents, older aunts and uncles, ect… on the first day of the New Year!
  • What do people eat on Nowruz? One of the most popular dishes for the Persian New Year is called “Sabzi Polo ba Mahi” along with “Kookoo Sabzi”. This is a MUST have dish on the first day of the year! We used to go to my grandma’s house on the first day of the New Year and have a BIG family gathering! My favorite aunt cooked most of the meals and we all enjoyed every bite of it!
  • Which countries celebrate Nowruz? According to Wikipedia,countries celebrating Nowruz include Iran, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Albania.

As someone who grew up in Iran, there were things that I LOVED about Nowruz and there were things that I DISLIKED about Nowruz! LOL! I’m going to share some of them here with you:

Things I LOVED about Nowruz:

  1. The smell of Spring throughout all of the streets of Tehran and other cities! I can’t even describe what that “smell” was! It was just an incredible essence of flowers and oranges on the trees that made everywhere smell so amazing!
  2. I loved the energy of my city, Tehran! The cute little street bands singing the Nowruz songs and the massive flood of people in the stores buying stuff for Haftsin (the Persian New Year table) as well as gifts for each other! Just like Christmas!
  3. I loved that you were being “forced” (out of respect) to visit some of your family members or friends that you haven’t seen for SO long!
  4. I loved being off from school and got to spend more time with my family at home!
  5. I loved going out of town (we mostly liked to go the northern part of Iran called “Shomal”). Back then Shomal in Nowruz was packed with visitors and considered a “Cool” place to go! LOL

What I DISLIKED about Nowrus:

  1. There is something called “khooneh Tekoony”. This literally means “Shaking your house”! hahaha! 99.9% of homes in Iran follow this tradition to clean their homes in the BEST possible way before the first day of the spring arrives! It’s supposed to be “Spring Cleaning”. My sister and I HATED the way my mom made our house look during the “khooneh Tekoony”! She would hire a cleaning crew to clean our house! Unfortunately, it was not a “normal cleaning”. She would have the cleaning crew wash the walls several times, wash the curtains, Iron the curtains, and so much more deep cleaning! It was almost 10 days of cleaning that we hated SO BAD!!!! hahaha
  2. Traffic: There is always traffic in Tehran (regardless of the day and time of the day). In my opinion, Tehran’s traffic is worse than Los Angles and New York Traffic! Around Nowruz time, Tehran’s traffic increases so much that it is almost intolerable! When I lived in Tehran, I didn’t mind the “people traffic” but I hated the “car traffic”.

Honestly besides these two “negative” things about Nowruz, I truly loved everything else about it.  To me, it was nothing but excitement and happy times!

Although celebrating Nowruz in US feels like “just another regular day” and unfortunately you don’t feel any excitement anywhere, I try my best to bring that “excitement” to our house. I also try my best to educate both of my little girls about the Nowruz and all of the traditions that come with it. I hope one day soon, I’ll be able to take them to Tehran with me around the Nowruz time so they can see and feel this magical time when it is happening!

Happy Nowruz, Happy Persian New Year!


Sherry, xoxo


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