New Year in SpringFeb 24th, 2010 | By dilan | Category: Dilan, Features
Norooz, Newroz , Noruz or Sultan Nevruz (depending on where you’re from) literally translated means new day. It is the New Year as celebrated by people of the Middle East and Asia including Iranians, Kurds, Afghans, Tajiks and Azeris, as well as some countries in Europe such as Albania.
Unlike our celebrations, their New Year does not start on January 1 but rather at the moment of the spring equinox, when the sun passes over the equator. This year that day falls on March 20.
In the run-up to the celebrations a lot of spring-cleaning is done and efforts are made to get things looking presentable. This is extended to personal attire and it is customary to buy at least one new set of clothes and shoes – the perfect shopping opportunity.
You could say that the celebrations are split into three parts: before, during and after. The first part is known as charshanbe soori and is on the last Wednesday of the year. Bonfires are lit and people take turns to jump over them. It is believed that jumping over fire on this day will cleanse you of your sins.
During the New Year it is tradition to visit friends, relatives and neighbours to wish them a happy New Year and custom for the elders in the family to give the younger ones presents. These gifts are called ay dee and are often money.
An important aspect of the New Year is the table that is laid out on the eve. This is called the haft seen and comprises of seven things beginning with the letter ‘s’ in the Farsi language. Each item on the table represents something different, for example, a bowl of vinegar is placed to represent age and patience and apples laid out to symbolise beauty and health. Hard-boiled eggs are colourfully painted, sometimes one for each member of the family, and goldfish are placed in a bowl to represent life. It is said that at the exact time of the New Year, the goldfish will flinch.
However the celebrations don’t end there. 13 days later is what is known as sizdeh bedar this translates into ‘throw out the thirteenth’. Houses are left empty as people leave for the outdoors to picnic until the evening. In the past it was believed that leaving the house on this day meant that all bad luck and misfortune left with you and did not stay in the family home.
The New Year is a national holiday spent with family and friends away from the daily stresses of life. At its end, school and work resumes and the New Year is commenced with a clean house, new clothes, strengthened family ties, and with the joy of renewal.
Sale no mobarak/happy New Year.