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Nowruz. A brief history .. - LemonSalt

Nowruz. A brief history ..

"Nowruz. New day"

It's fair to say that spring is the season to be in harmony with nature and put away the old and look forward to a new beginning. That is why it makes sense that the new year would begin in Spring. New life, new beginnings. 

All over the world Persians observe this holiday as a fresh start and begin cleaning their homes weeks in advance in preparation for the new beginning.

This holiday is over 3,000 years old but fun fact: no one knows the exact date because it’s that old. The date and time changes every year as it’s marked with the exact moment of spring equinox.

However despite its history and strong connection to Persian culture it is not a holiday that’s tied to Islamic or Christian beliefs because it predates both religions and is linked to Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion.

Festival of Fire

To this day, the precise moment that spring arrives is celebrated by following the virtually unchanged rituals that were observed years ago in a ceremony. 

The preparation for this day begins a few days prior to the arrival of spring in another ceremony to bid goodbye to the old year with whatever ailment or unhappiness that entailed. This ceremony is called Chaharshanbeh Soori otherwise known as a festival of fire. 

The festivities begin on the evening of the last Tuesday of the year and continues until the early morning hours of Wednesday (Chaharshanbeh). Small bonfires symbolising light, warmth and energy are built. Friends and families now jump over these fires whilst singing the words “Zardi ye man az to, sorkhi ye to az man,” which essentially translates to: Take away all of my ailment and give me your health and energy. The rest of the evening is typically filled with joy, merry songs, and eating good food and spending time with family members.

Which countries celebrate Nowruz?

Nowruz is celebrated by a vast number of countries along the Silk Roads, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Celebration day

Celebration day also known as "Tahvil e Sal" is certainly an exciting day. Good food, good mood all around. If you happen to be celebrating with friends or you are traveling in the region during this March festival here are some things you should look out for so you are not completely bamboozled with whats going on. 

Sofreh Haftseen

The preparation for Nowruz by tradition is a very simple table or Sofreh (cloth) called Sofreh Haftseen which usually includes: 

Mirror, candles, coloured eggs, flowers, fruits, nuts, sweets as well as 7 staple items that start with the letter "S". Haftseen essentially translates to 7 S's.

Each of these seven items symbolise something that is really important to life. These symbols varies may from family to family, but they may include any of the following:

1. Somagh (sumac) – The crimson color of sunrise and spice of life
2. Serkeh (vinegar) – Age and patience
3. Senjed (dried fruit from lotus tree): symbolises love
4. Samanoo (sweet pudding): symbolises affluence
5. Sabzeh (sprouts): symbolises rebirth
6. Sib (apple): symbolises health and beauty
7. Sir (garlic): symbolises medicine

What happens after? 

No matter the time of day, family members sit around the Haftseen table and await the arrival of spring (Essentially the new years countdown). At that precise moment friends and family all kiss each other and wish one another a healthy and happy new year. "Nowruzetan Mobarak" or "Sale Nowetan Mobarak".

The celebrations continue on for 12 days whereby family members visit each others homes for "Eid didany". If you happen to be the younger members of the family then this is a great time to tag along since it is customary for the elders to give you money!

And that about wraps it up! Hopefully you have gained a stronger grasp of the Nowruz celebrations. Nowruz Pirooz! 

At LemonSalt we are always looking to learn and share about all major dates, religions and backgrounds just like we learn and search about our food!

Be sure to check out all corners of our store and who knows, maybe you will discover an ingredient, item or recipe that will open up a whole new spectrum of ideas for you! 

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