Jashn-e Mehregan - The Autumn Festival
the Iranian year into two equal seasons: summer and winter.
The beginning of each season would then be celebrated
through a big feast, one called Noruz and the other Mehregan.
The coming of autumn is celebrated usually on the 9th
or 10th of October (the Mehr Month of the Persian calendar)
and is dedicated to the Goddess of Light Mitra or Mehr.
Mehr represented knowledge, love, light and friendship.
Her followers believed that she defeated evil and darkness,
a scene that is often depicted with a triumphant lion
residing over a bull. The word "mehr" in Farsi means
After Noruz, the festival
of Mehregan is the second most elaborate celebration
are many different renditions of how and why Mehregan
has come about. Some say Mehregan was a day of victory
for Fereydoon and Kaveh, who won over Zahak with the
help of angels. They imprisoned him in the Damavand
Mountains where he
from his wounds. Others say that the Festival of Mehregan
came about when God gave light to the world,
which had been dark up to that point. Yet others argue
that on this day Mashia and Mashyaneh, who are the
conceptual Semitic Adam and Eve, were created or some
sun was created. No matter what the origins, Persians
all over celebrate this festival in the fall signifying
season of harvest and thanks. Friendships are renewed
and families are visited.
have different ways of celebrating Mehergan.
Historically and still today in some parts of
are sacrificed for this occasion by Zoroastrians
on the day of Mehregan. Sometimes they continue
this tradition for three days. The sheep
is grilled on a three-stone oven, to represent
words, good deeds and good thoughts which
the cornerstone of the religion. At the end,
the sheep is given to the fire temple. The
fat of the sheep is strewed on the flames
are held. Mehergan can last up to five days.
In modern days, families
gather to celebrate and welcome the new season much like
they do with Noruz and the coming of spring. Preparations
are made to get ready for winter and thanks is given
to the harvest. For this celebration old and young gather
to reconnect and prepare foods to share with the poor
and those in need. Ajil is
made and handed out to friends and relatives. Traditional
dishes are cooked along with lamb, rice dishes, dessets,
and the like. Celebrations can end with bonfires and
fireworks preparing the children for the new school year
and rejoicing on this merry occasion.
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A PErsian Thankgiving
is nothing more pleasurable than combining cultures,
traditions and tastes.
Thanksgiving has always provided the perfect opportunity
for this as it is a non-religious holiday and very much
tune with the traditions of old Persian culture: to
forgive, and to give thanks for the family and friends
Celebrate this wonderful
holiday with an added
twist filled with homely flavors and familiar aromas.
guests a tasty menu which will provide a delightful change
to the traditional turkey dinner. Comprised
of all the right starters, sides and main course, this
sure way to have them coming back for seconds.
has been compiled with the help of our resident Persian
Azar Kamarei. For more about Azar, visit the
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Shab-e Yalda - The Winter Feast
This winter celebration
has to do with the longest night of the year. Yalda,
a Syriac word imported by the Syriac Christians means
birth and is related to the birth of Jesus. It is also
interchangable with “Shab-e Cheleh”, the
Zoroastrian celebration of Winter Solstice, the longest
night of winter, around December 21st and forty days
before the next Persian festival ‘Jashn e Sadeh’.
Cheleh is the word for forty and Shab means night.
Traditionally on this night the forces of Ahriman are at the peak of their
strength. The next day, the first day of the month of ‘Dey’ known
as ‘khoram rooz’ or ‘khore rooz’ (the day of sun) belongs
to Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom. Since the days are getting longer and the
nights shorter, this day marks the victory of Sun over darkness.
On this night, family and friends gather for a large feast. Various dried fruits,
nuts, seeds and fresh winter fruits are provided at these events to celebrate
and pray to the deities to ensure the protection of the winter crops. The traditional
feast for the night is eggplant stew with saffron rice, rice with chicken and
yoghurt. Medieval poetry from Hafez can be read and fortunes are told in the
famous “Fal-e Hafez” tradition. Children and parents gather around
a warm korsi, which is an older Persian oven (wooden box filled with coal),
and hear tales of Rostam and Sohrab or other great stories from the Shahnahmeh.
Candles are lit and fireplaces, ovens and heaters are all turned on to get
through the cold night together. Families cuddle under the korsi and pass snacks
around, tell jokes and stay up all night to share in the fun.
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Jashn-e Tirgan - The Rain Festival
This event is celebrated
in July (the Tir Month of the Persian calendar) and refers
to the archangel Tir (arrow) or Tishtar (lightning bolt)
who appeared in the sky to generate thunder and lightning
for much needed rain. Legend says that Arash-e Kamangir
was a man chosen to settle a land dispute between two
leaders, Iran and Turan. Arash was to shoot his arrow
on the 13th day of Tir and where the arrow landed, there
would lie the border between the two kingdoms.
who had suffered from the lack of rain, and Iran rejoiced
the settlement of the borders, the peace and rain poured
onto the two countries. Today, some Iranians celebrate
this occasion with dancing, singing, reciting poetry
and serving spinach soup and sholeh zarid. It hasalso
been observed that during this celebration children
rejoice by swimming in streams and splashing water around.
custom of tying rainbow-colored bands on their wrists,
which are worn for ten days and then thrown into a
stream, is also a great way to rejoice for kids.
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Jashn-e Sadeh - The Fire Festival
event, which pays homage to fire and light, is celebrated
on January 31st
of the year. As with other elements, fire is one that
is celebrated often and signifies light and knowledge.
Jashn-e Sadeh marks a hundred days of the great winter,
which start on
Sad means one hundred in Farsi.
There are many suggestions
as to the origins of the fire festival. Some say the
event comes from the legend of Hushang Shah, who
one day on his ride. In his defense, Hushang threw a
rock at the snake and missed. Instead, the rock hit another
large rock and started a spark starting a fire. The fire
spread and engulfed the snake saving Hushang’s
To celebrate, friends
and family gather firewood and build a huge bonfire.
Candles, lite and fire are
respected and celebrated. Chestnuts, potatoes and nuts
are roasted in fires and enjoyed by all. Traditional
drinks, sweets and meals are served as people sing
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