Nowruz – Celebrating the Persian New Year

Nowruz which means “New Day” has been celebrated all around the globe for many years. It is a Persian new year’s celebration. Read the article below to find out more about this fascinating holiday!


The history of Nowruz stretches back over 2,600 years to the time of ancient Persian kings. Initially a religious festival, Nowruz is now mainly secular, though it is based on symbolism and rich traditions. Nowruz is considered the beginning of the New Year not only in Iran, but throughout Central Asia. The holiday falls on the first day of spring (March 21st) and lasts for 13 days.

The new year is all about new beginnings. Wishing prosperity and welcoming the future while shedding the past. Iranian new year celebrates compassion and love toward people, while forgetting previous hatred. People even buy brand new clothes to symbolize a fresh start. Iranian hospitality is a trait that runs in their veins no matter what. People visit friends, neighbors and relatives, share meals and throw big parties. Families also plant small pots of wheat, barley or lentils that germinate into lush green sprouts.

The most important part of Persian new year is about cleaning. Before spring starts, all members of the family gather around to clean the whole house. Everything from carpets, curtains, walls to furniture and windows are cleaned. The house is decorated with flowers. Everything has to be in its perfect shape. The reason of this cleaning dates back to many years ago. People believed that spirits of the dead returned to their homes on the first day of spring. If the house was clean and beautiful, spirits prayed for them. If it isn’t to their liking, they cursed at the house – bringing bad luck to the home that year.

Haji Firooz

Iranian also have their own version of Santa Claus. Amoo Nowruz or Uncle Nowruz (also called uncle Firooz) pops up during the Persian new year to bring good wishes. He is depicted with blackface and has a special clothes in red.The arrival of Nowruz is announced by street singers, wearing colorful outfits and playing the tambourine. Some versions of the traditional story trace him to a character watching over the eternal flame of the ancient Zoroastrians.

Nowruz Foods

On the first day of Nowruz, families gather at the home of their oldest family member.The traditional New Year meal includes all kinds of sweets, pastries, nuts and sherbets are eaten in large amounts. Some of the more popular Nowruz dishes are sabzi polo mahi (rice mixed with herbs and served with white fish); Reshteh polo – chunks of lamb with rice and noodles, Dolmeh barg – grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice and ground lamb, Shirin, or shekar polo – a sweet rice pilaf, ash reshteh (a thick green soup with noodles, chickpeas and beans); and kuku sabzi (vegetable frittata).

Pastries include baghlava, toot (mulberry); naan-nokhodchi (chickpea cookies with pistachio); and ajeel (dried berries and raisins).

Haft Sin Table

Haft Sin Table is a tradition of placing seven special items on the table. These include:

• Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ): symbol of affluence

• Senjed (silverberry): symbol of love

• Sekeh (coin): symbol of prosperity

• Seeb (apple): symbol of health

• Seer (garlic): symbol of medicine

• Serkeh (vinegar): symbol of patience

• Sabzeh (sprout): symbol of rebirth

There are other items that might be placed on the table may be:

• Candles: symbol of enlightenment

• Mirror: symbol of transparency

• Poetry books or Holy Quran: symbol of education

• Goldfish: symbol of life

• Colored egg: symbol of race

Sizdah Be-dar

The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is called Sizdah Bedar (meaning “thirteen outdoors”). It falls on or close to April Fool’s Day. People go out in nature in groups and spend all day outdoors. It is a day of festivities in nature – music, dancing, children playing. On this day, people throw their sabzeh away in the nature as a symbolic act of making nature greener. This also disposes of bad luck that sprouts are said to have collected in the household.

The final day of Nowruz is a time for families to drive to the countryside for day-long picnics. People revel in the fresh and warming air. The next day, it’s back to work.

Different cultures add their own traditions in celebrating Nowruz, but the central theme is the same: a celebration of spring and a time for rebirth and renewal.

For comments or inquires contact:

Alex Khodadad, Broker, CPA
1930 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 705-1300Click here


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