Khaneh Tekani - Spring Cleaning
Noruz (new year, or
more literally "new day") is the most important
celebration for Iranians. Perhaps the first step in preparing
for Noruz or Now-Ruz, the Persian New Year, is Khaneh
Tekani, the annual house cleaning or the spring-cleaning.
In ancient times, Iranians believed that spirits of their
deceased families and friends would come to visit their
descendants and their homes. For this occasion, the hosts
clean their homes. The word Khaneh or the slang Khooneh
means house or home. The word Tekani means shaking. So
the Iranians are literally shaking the house to clean
it - much like you shake a rug to clean it. During the
Khaneh Tekani, every room in the house is thoroughly
cleaned. Iranian families gather to wash the rugs, carpets,
and curtains. They polish silverware, pots and pans,
and renew old items in the house. In addition, for Norooz,
every member of the family renews their look by purchasing
Norooz clothes to be worn on the day of Norooz. Families
fill their homes with the sweet fragrance of flowers
such as hyacinth and narcissus. The burning of wild rue,
which is called esfand, is practiced to keep evil spirits
away and provide a nice aroma in the house.
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Chahar Shanbeh Suri - red wednesday Bonfire Festival
On the eve of
the Wednesday before Norooz, the Iranians celebrate
Chahar Shanbeh Suri. This is commonly known as the
Wednesday Feast or the Festival of the last Wednesday
as it is always celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday
of the year. The word Chahar Shanbeh means Wednesday
and Suri is red.
The festivities start in the early evening. Children and fun seeking
adults, wrap themselves in white sheets or costumes reenacting visits
by the departed spirits. They run through the streets banging on pots
and pans with spoons. This is called Gashog-Zani or spoon banging and
ushers out the last unlucky Wednesday of the year. They also go to their
neighbors, knock on doors and ask for treats, a tradition very similar
to Halloween. The main event of Chahar-Shanbeh Suri is the setting of
seven little fires consisting of dried bushes and shrubs, which are placed
on the ground. Adults and children alike gather to jump over the flames
to sing, and celebrate the renewal of life. While jumping the flames,
the person chants “Sorkhi-e to az man. Zardi-e man az to.” The
literal translation is, “Your fiery red color is mine and my sickly
yellow paleness is yours.” Loosely translated, this means you want
the fire to take your paleness, sickness and problems and in turn give
you redness, warmth and energy. There is no religious significance attached
to Chahar Shanbeh Suri and it serves as a cultural festival for all Iranian
Jews, Moslems, Armenians, Turks and Zoroastrians alike.
Iranians believe that wishes will come true on this night. Wishes are
made and in order to make them come true, it is customary to prepare
Noodles & Bean soup called Ash-e
Chahar Shanbeh Suri and share with the poor. Friends and strangers
alike are also served with nuts and dried fruits, the Ajil-e Chahar Shanbeh
Suri. The Ajil has a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits, pistachios,
roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins.
To make wishes come true, people who have made wishes will stand at the
corner of an intersection, or hide behind walls to listen to conversation
of those passing by. If the conversations overheard are positive then
the wish will come true. This tradition is called Fal Gush meaning 'listening
for one's fortune'. Finally the Chahar Shanbeh Suri evening ends with
fire works and family gatherings for a festive meal.
This ancient festival has been celebrated for thousands of years ever
since the birth of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Persians celebrated
the last 10 days of the year in the annual feast of souls, Hamaspathmaedaya,
Farvardigan or popularly Forodigan). They believed Foruhars, the guardian
angels for humans and the spirits of deceased would come back for a visit.
These spirits were entertained as honored guests, and were given a ritual
farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The bon fires also served as a
welcome to these guests. Small clay figurines in shape of humans and
animals symbolizing all departed relatives and animals were also placed
on the rooftops. Flames were burnt all night to ensure the returning
spirits were protected from the forces of Ahriman. This was called Suri
festival. There were gatherings in joyful assemblies, with prayers, feasts
and communal consumption of ritually blessed food. Rich and poor met
together and the occasion was a time of general goodwill when quarrels
were resolved and friendships renewed.
On the Thursday after Chahar Shanbeh Suri, Shab-e Jome is celebrated
which is a traditional big feast of polo and chicken. Follow ling this
ritual assures one that there will be a similar dinner at least once
a week during the coming year.
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Norooz History - New Years Roots
The word Norooz meaning
New Day, is the most anticipated and favorite celebration
for Iranians. It occurs exactly on the Spring Equinox.
This occasion has been renowned in one form or another
by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerians,
3000 BC, Babylonians, the ancient kingdom of Elam in
Southern Persia and Akaddians in the second millennium
BC, all celebrated this festival. What we celebrate today
as Norooz (Also spelled Now Ruz, Norooz or Norouz) has
been around for at least 3000 years and is deeply rooted
in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrians of
the Sassanian period.
The concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection, the coming of the Messiah,
individual and last judgment are the foundation for the Zoroastrian belief
system and still exist in Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. In
their ancient text, ‘Bundahishn’ foundation of creation,
it is said that The Lord of Wisdom (Ahura Mazda) residing in the eternal
light was not God. He created all that was good and became God. The Hostile
Spirit, Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), residing in the eternal darkness created
all that was evil and became the Hostile Spirit. Everything that produced
life, protected and enriched it was regarded as good. This included all
forces of nature beneficial to humans. Earth, waters, sky, animals, plants,
justice, honesty, peace, health, beauty, joy and happiness were regarded
as belonging to the good forces. All that threatened life and created
disorder belonged to the hostile spirits.
The next creation was the material world, created at seven different
stages. The first creation was the sky, and the second was the first
ocean. Earth, a big flat dish sitting on the ocean, was the third. The
next three creations were the first plant, the first animal a bull and
the first human Gayo-maretan (Kiomarth, both male and female). The seventh
creation was fire together with the sun.
To protect his creations the Lord of Wisdom created six holy immortals
known as ‘Amesha Spenta’. The first three were male deities.
Khashtra (Sharivar), the protector of sky; Asha-Vahishta (Ordibehesht)
and Vahu Manah (Bahman) protected fire and animals. The other three were
female deities: Haurvatat (Khordad) to protect water, Spenta Armaiti
(Esfand) protector of mother earth and Ameratat (Amoordad) for plant life.
Ahura Mazda became the protector of humans and the holy fire. The six
immortals are the names of six of the months in the current Iranian calendar.
To begin the cycle life, the plant produced seeds; the bull produced
all animals and from the human came the first male and female. The rest
of the humanity was created from their union. This was called the first
No Ruz, meaning new day and the beginning of the cycle of life. It starts
at the beginning of spring and the seven creations are remembered and
embraced through the Iranian New Year spread called Sofreh Haft Sin.
Norooz is celebrated for 13 days after the mark of spring equinox.
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Sal Tahvil - New Year's Times
Sal Tahvil or the Sa'at-e Tahvil is New Year's Eve,
which is the official time for the Spring Equinox.
Every year the equinox occurs at a different point
in time, so the date, although accurately measured
(to the date and time) is different each year, but
close to March 20th.
Sa'at- tahvil is an important moment, as it is a time for forgiving each
other, putting away petty differences and looking forward to building
more constructive relationships. The countdown is often followed carefully
on the radio or television, as the family gathers around the haft sin,
in their new clothes, carefully watching the egg or preparing to take
a picture of the Sal Tahvil. Legend says that there is a bullfish in
the ocean of time carrying the world on one of its horns. When the Sal-e
Tahvil arrives, the bullfish tosses the world over to the other horn,
resulting in a tremor that will dislodge the egg and send it rolling
to the side of the mirror.
As the countdown ushers in the new year, everyone rejoices, kiss each
other, exchanging Norooz greetings such as “Eid-i shoma mobarak!”or “Sal-e
No Mobarak!” which means Happy New Year. Gifts, usually money called
Eidi, placed inside the Koran are exchanged, given by older members to
the younger members of the family. Members of the family then celebrate
by singing, eating, drinking and taking pictures.
It is also believed that the next visitor to the home will set the tone
for luck in the new year, so generally the family will send out the youngest
or most innocent member of the family to go outside with some sweets
and knock on the door, come in and pretend to be a visitor. After the
family has celebrated, the next 13 days are spent visiting the families.
Families gather to take pictures and share sweets and celebrate.
of NOROOZ Saal-Tahvil (turn of the year) - is
FOR NEW TIMES FOR THIS NEW
YEAR PLEASE VISIT THE NOROOZ
CALENDAR FOR SAL TAHVIL ON PERSIANMIRROR.COM
Saal Tahvil Link for Current Year
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Haji Firuz & Amoo Norooz- The Persian Troubadour & Santa
The old Haji, named
Firuz or Firooz, is the troubadour who ushers in the
new year with his song, dance and merriment. Haji Firooz
symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god of sacrifice,
Domuzi, who was killed at the end of each year and reborn
at the beginning of the New Year. Wearing an elaborate
red costume which is a cross between a court jester,
santa claus and perhaps a venician at carnival, the herald
uses his tambourine and enlists a few fellow comedians
to make the world laugh. Traditionally, Haji Firooz wears
black make up and this is thought to have come from ancient
times when the entertainment was provided by black slaves
who, with their rather 'strange accents' for the Persians
brought laughter to the people. Today’s modern
Haji Firooz sings and dances through the streets with
tambourines and trumpets spreading joy for Norooz. He
often appears at gatherings and entertains by singing,
dancing, telling stories and also a few good jokes. Children
and adults all love Haji Firooz who, if you are lucky,
will tell a few good tales like that of Amoo Norooz (Amoo
Norouz) and other old Persian tales. Amoo Norooz, a distant
relative of Haji Firooz is responsible for giving gifts
to the children much like Santa Claus. He makes their
wishes come true and ensures that they are happy and
healthy for many years to come.
Sofreh Preparation - Growing Sabzeh & Egg
You can start growing
your sabzeh which is the first S on the sofreh and consists
of green sprouts, about 2 or 3 weeks before Norooz. This
also depends on how tall you want your Sabzeh. You will
need whole lentils (adas) or whole-wheat seeds sold at
Iranian stores. We recommend you use these as grocery
store seeds do not always yield the best results.
Place a good amount of seed on a nice plate or dish, about 1 cm thick,
Soak the seeds in water for two days and then put them on a shallow plate
and cover it with a cotton cloth or thin towel. With the cloth over the
seeds, place plate in a sunny location or under a light if you do not
have access to the sun. Squirt water over the shoots several times a
day, and keep them covered with the cloth. Ensure that the seeds do not
get too dry or over-soaked. In about 2 or 3 days, small sprouts appear.
Remove the cloth and let the sabzeh grow (increased exposure to the sun
will increase the speed of its growth). You can grow several dishes in
case they rot or go moldy which they often do. Some ladies have a reputation
for having green hands and growing great Sabzeh. They might be asked
to grow some for friends and relatives. If your hands are far from "green" on
your first attempts, do not worry, most Iranian stores sell pre-grown
Sabzeh and many people simply buy them.
Another fun tradition
for the children is the painting of the eggs for Norooz.
This is much like the Easter tradition of painting eggs
and can be a great way to teach children about the significance
of Haft Sin. The best time to do this is the day before
Norooz. That way your eggs will be ready for the sofreh
and they will last for the next 13 days of the New Year.
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Sofreh Haft Sin - The Seven S's of the
The Sofreh Haft Sin
(Haft Seen) is the spread, which the family gathers around
to celebrate the New Year. It is the focal point of the
celebration and ensuing visits and as such Iranians take
great care and pride in putting together a lavish and
elaborate spread to signify all that they want in the
new year. The word Haft means seven and Sin stands for
the “S” in the alphabet. Sofreh means spread,
the floor of which is usually a nice rich material or
embroidered fabric. The spread contains the seven specific
things that start with “s”. The sofreh is
prepared a day or two before Norooz and placed either
on the floor or on the table for about two weeks after
Norooz. In addition to the seven items, you may place
additional items on the sofreh that will signify renewal,
happiness, wealth, good health or any thing that you
desire for the New Year. You will find additional items
that start with S and other items that represent life
in our list. Remember that this celebration is one of
hope, promise and good fortune, so have fun with it and
share the joy with all your friends and family.
Here is a list of suggested items for your sofreh:
||Description & Symbolism
||Made from wheat or lentil this S signifies rebirth
and renewal. Read about how you grow these sprouts
||The First S on the Sofreh.
||A sweet, dry fruit of a lotus tree
||The fragrant and blooming lotus tree makes people
fall in love so it is natural that its fruit would
signify love and affection
The Second S on the Sofreh
||A big red apple represents health and beauty.
||Third S on the Sofreh
||Wheat and wheat products signify sweetness and
||Fourth S on the Sofreh
||White Vinegar signifies age and patience.
||Fifth S on the Sofreh
||Crushed Sumac berries
||This S symbolizes the spice of life. Some say Somagh
represents the color of the sunrise and with the
sun all evil is conquered.
||Sixth S on the Sofreh
||This medicinal S is a sign of good health.
||Seventh S on the Sofreh
||Wealth and Prosperity
||Purple or pink hyacinth are common on the Sofreh
and also represent life and beauty.
||Noon-e Sangak represents prosperity for the feasts.
It can be accompanied by Naan-o Panir, which is Iranian
feta cheese and fresh herbs to be eaten at the feast.
||A sweet honey candy made with pistachios.
||Gold Fish in a clear white bowl represents life
and the end of the astral year associated with the
||On the Sofreh
||To bring light & brightness into the New Year
||Head of the Sofreh
||Candles large or small can be used and symbolize
fire & energy.
|| On either side of the mirror.
||Symbolizes fertility. Eggs are painted by children
much like Easter eggs are painted.
||On the Sofreh. Can be as elaborate as desired.
||Iranians love nuts. They can be roasted pistachios,
walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts
||On the Sofreh
||Koran, Bible, Torah, Avesta or other Scriptures,
or Poetry depending on beliefs
||Symbolizes blessings and faith in the New Year.
You can also place a Divan-e Hafez or other book
of faith and knowledge.
||Placed in the middle. Put money in the pages of
the book and give out Eidi after sal tahvil.
||Sweets & Pastries
||Noghl, Baaghlavaa, Toot, Noon-e Berenji, Noon-e
Nokhodchi and any other sweets you prefer
||On the Sofreh
|Esfand or Esphand
||A brazier "Manghal" holding burning coals
sprinkled with "Esphand" a popular incense.
It keeps the evil eye away and brings on health.
Other optional items: rose
water (gol ab), various spices, tray of dry beans, wheat
and grain products, various fruit baskets, flowers, vegetables,
sweets, nuts and snacks are all welcome. Some families
also add a Jaa Namaaz (prayer mat). You can also include
a termeh, which is a traditional Persian silk or gold
embroidered cloth, handed down from generations to symbolize
family and tradition. Visit our real
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Deed-o Bazdeed - New Years Visits
The Sal Tahvil, and
the eve of the New Year are spent at home with immediate
family. After that the tradition of Deed-o Bazdeed starts.
This expression means to visit (see) and to visit back
or again signifying the next 13 days of the New Year,
which bring visits to and from family, friends and neighbors.
On the first day of these visits, the families gather
at the house of the head of the family, usually the oldest
person such as a grandfather or grandmother of the family.
This order is kept then from oldest to youngest and serves
as a way of paying respect to the family. During these
visits, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors and
distant relatives gather to celebrate and enjoy the reunion,
which may not otherwise occur during the busy year. Iranian
sweets, shirini, ajil, tea and various fruits, or entire
meals are served at these functions. Children get presents
called Eidi from the older relatives, which range from
toys to cash. The visits continue going from grandparents
to the aunts, uncles, family friends and so on. At the
end of thirteen days, the families go on the wonderful
and fun family outing called Seezah Bedar.
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Sizdah Bedar - The Day 13 Outing
Seezdah Bedar is the
last holiday of the long Norooz break and is a day filled
with relaxation and fun outdoors. Seezdah means 13 and
Bedar means away or out. Iranians consider 13 to be an
unlucky number and so for this reason, they spend the
13th day of the New Year outside the home. Seezdah-Bedar
is in essence a national picnic that is celebrated with
everyone going to parks, hills and mountainsides to spend
the day with nature, wishing the evil spirits away. This
way one hopes to avoid any bad incidents that may occur.
Family members rise early in the morning and prepare for the day long
picnic. Iranians take their picnics very seriously and pack all the necessary
items, leaving maybe the refrigerators behind. Supplies may include sandwiches,
traditional polos, drinks, sweets, snacks such as ajil, carpets or rugs,
the samavar, a ghalyan (water-pipe), backgammon, chess, cards, balls
and other games for the children. Usually areas filled with nature, greenery
and streams are chosen to commemorate this cultural holiday. More importantly,
the sabzeh (sprouted wheat or lentils) is brought from the sofreh Haft-Sin
to be thrown in a flowing stream or creek. It is believed that the sabzeh,
which has by this time turned a little yellow, symbolizes sickness and
problems. Therefore, it is thrown and carried away by the stream. The
day is spent playing games, going for long walks in the fields, eating,
drinking and enjoying each other’s company. In addition, Seezdah
Bedar is a big day of hope, and people who wish for things follow the
tradition of tying grass together. For example if a young girl wishes
to find a husband in the coming year she will tie grass and chant “Seezdah
Bedar Sale degar, khune-ye shuhar”. This rhyme literally means, “Next
seezdah bedar, I will be at my husband’s home”. There are
various chants for people who wish to get a job or be healthy or wealthy
and so on. At the end of this day, the haft sin may be cleared away and
families return to work.
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