At the precise moment the sun crosses the equator, signalling the spring equinox, millions of families all around the world will come together and welcome Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
The 13-day season of festivities that begins on the first day of Farvardin—the first month of the Iranian Hijri calendar—is an ancient celebration that symbolizes nature’s cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation.
Preparations for Nowruz often begin weeks in advance with a thorough house-cleaning, and many children are gifted new clothing or money from older relatives. On the Wednesday before Nowruz you can find people jumping over public bonfires to cleanse for the new year, as well as children going door to door banging on pots with spoons to ask for candy. Families also put together their haftseen table, a household altar holding items symbolizing the spirit of the season. According to tradition, seven items beginning with the number S are arranged on the table, each with its own significance:
—Seeb (apple), for beauty
—Seer (garlic), for health
—Serkeh (vinegar), for patience
—Sonbol (hyacinth), for spring
—Samanu (sweet pudding), for fertility
—Sabzeh (sprouts), for rebirth
—Sekkeh (coins), for prosperity
Some families also include sumac for the sunrise and senjed (Lotus fruit), for love. Additional items, such as a mirror for reflection, and a goldfish in a bowl to represent life are often included as well as sweets and fruits. On the 13th day of Nowruz the haftseen is taken down and families enjoy a meal of sabzi polo mahi (seasoned rice with fish) before casting the sabzeh (sprouts) into fresh flowing water to symbolize letting go of all baggage and misfortune from the previous year.
Eide Shoma Mobarak! (Happy Nowruz!)