NOWRUZ FESTIVAL(THE New Year)
Inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a cultural tradition observed by numerous peoples, Nowruz is an inherited festivity marking the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as settlement and neighborliness, thus contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities. As the spring's footsteps start tickling the ears, lilies, daffodils and narcissuswake up to bloom, the impatient Persians awaiting the spring, set up a colorful celebration to give it a warm welcome. Nowruz is the Persians' longest and most cherished festivity, on which all Persians celebrate the New Year with the nature's resurrection from withered winter. It is deeply rooted in Zoroastrianism and counts as the oldest Iranian festival. Nowruz ancientness, variety, colorfulness, and rich symbolism mark it off from its peers in other nations and countries. Nowruz is the Celebration of Life; it is determined according to the spring season and coincides with March 21, or the previous/following day, marking the start of the spring in the northern hemisphere. Nowruz celebration in Iran: Esfand, the last month of the year is the high time for a welcoming preparation. To begin with, the housekeepers set out to do the spring-cleaning, “Khaane-tekaani” in Persian, which mainly entails the washing of the carpets and the othermust-wash items and furniture.
The other preparation is growing “Sabzeh” (wheat, lentil, or barley seeds) in some pot, which is done about 2 or 3weeks before Nowruz but today many people simply buy them. One other preparation to welcome Nowruz is “Nowruzian Shopping”, called “Kharid-e Nowruzi”. It includes purchasing new clothes, sweets and dry nuts, flower (in particular hyacinths and tulips) and the articles of “Haft Sin”. Number 'seven' has got a holy position in the Persian Culture. We are told of seven levels of earth and heavens, as mentioned in Persian mythology, seven constellations which controlled the fate of the mortals and even seven days in aweek. Seven-s spread, in Persian called “Sofreye Haft Sin”, is the inextricable component of all homes on Nowruz. Sofreh means spread or tablecloth and Haft Sin, means seven Ss. People of Iran are used to decorate their Haft Sin in seven big trays each bearing seven kinds of foods. Each item has its own symbolism, which stems from the advent of the custom. “Sabzeh” (the green sprouts of wheat, barley or lentil) is an important decorator of Haft Sin which symbolizes rebirth of nature and richness of earth. Aglittering red or yellow “Seeb” (apple) stands for beauty and good health. “Samanu”, kind of a sweet pudding or custard, is the next article symbolizing affluence. The following item stands for love and is called “Senjed”, fruit of the oleaster or lotus tree. Another item is “Seer” (garlic) and is the representative of medicine on the spread. Then there exists sumac berries, “Somaq”, which epitomizes the color of the sunrise and as the last article, “Serkeh”(vinegar) epitomizes patience and age. The table is beautifully laid and symbolizes themessage and the Messenger, light, reflection, warmth, life, love, joy, production, prosperity, and nature. It is, in fact, a very elaborate thanksgiving table for all the good and beautiful things bestowed by God. Different families or ethnicities may substitute some of the mentioned seven items with something else but those mostly accepted pieces were as enumerated. There also some articles whose initial is not “S”, but count with the items of “Sofreye Haft-sin” like the holy Qur'an, an upright mirror, burning candles, colored eggs (similar to the Easter eggs), a bowl of water with an orange floating in, a bowl of water with a gold fish within, Iranian sweetmeats, confectioneries, different fruits, traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, “aajeel” (dried nuts, berries and raisins) which is another important component of thewholenowruz festival.