Today at 4:15pm GMT Iranian all over the world celebrated Nowruz, better known in the Western world as the Spring Equinox. Nowruz, meaning new day is the start of the Persian year and signifies new life and fresh starts.
Celebrations start on the eve of the Wednesday before New Year, better know as Chaharshanbe Suri. Adults and children alike light bonfires and carry on the age-old tradition of jumping over them. With music playing and families singing and dancing, the celebrations go on into the night.
The Noruz table is a significant part of the ancient celebrations. Called Haft Seen, the table consists of seven items beginning with the letter S, all of which symbolise different aspects of life.
1. Somagh (sumac) : symbolises the color of sunrise
2. Serkeh (vinegar): symbolises 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
Haft Seen tables often also include painted eggs and a goldfish!
The exact moment of Nowruz differs every year. This year Iran celebrated at 7:45pm local time. The day would have been spent preparing the delicious traditional dish of dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat) which is often left cooking as the new year passes. Last year I had great delight in preparing this traditional dish with my Iranian family in Tabriz.
After Nowruz, days are spent visiting family, eating great food and sharing stories. During my visit to Iran we spent many hours at our relatives houses and each time I was offered a vast array of sweets, nuts, chocolates and fruits. Every household wanted to display the best hospitality and it was a real treat to see how welcoming the Iranian culture really is.
If you ever get the chance to celebrate the Iranian New Year, please, don’t turn it down, you definitely won’t regret it!