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Persian New Year | Melody Abouzari

If I asked you when New Year was, you’d probably look at me with a confused expression and say something along the lines of, “It was in January?” For many Iranians and Iranian-Americans, however, March is considered our month of rebirth and the New Year. The best way that I could describe Persian New Year (or Eid) is a celebration of life consisting of festivities that last for around three weeks. The celebrations start a week prior to the spring equinox, which typically falls on either the 19th, 20th, or 21st of March.

To prepare, we lay out a sofreh, or a spread, known as a haft-seen. In Farsi, haft means “7” and seen is a letter equivalent to S, so the spread consists of seven items with the letter “seen.” In Iranian culture, 7 is considered a lucky number, so the sofreh brings luck into your life for the new year! The sofreh consists of sabzeh (grass), serkeh (vinegar), sumac (traditional persian spice), seeb (apple), senjed (silver berry), sir (garlic), and samanu (wheat sprout). Each item helps bring luck in a different way. For example, seeb represents fertility. Other items, such as poetry books, fish, mirrors, and more are also included on the sofreh. Spring cleaning is used to bring luck into the home, and eggs are painted to include children in celebrations.

On the day of the equinox, the official day of celebration starts! The night is spent eating delicious food and waiting up till the New Year has officially begun. The time differs every year since it is based on the planet's position to one another. For example, this year the equinox occurs at exactly 8:33 A.M. Family dinners are standard, and the oldest members of the family give “eide” consisting of money ranging from $2 to $100. Typical dinner dishes include sabzi polo mahi (herbed rice with fish), fesenjan (pomegranate stew), and ghormeh sabzi (dried herb stew). Desserts included kolache (stuffed cookies), faloodeh (rice noodle ice cream), noon berangee (rice powder cookies), and so much more.

Once the day of the equinox has finished, a new set of celebrations called Sizdeh Bedar immediately follows. Sizdeh translates to “thirteen” and Bedar translates to “getting rid of,” so on Sizdeh Bedar you spend thirteen days getting rid of bad luck and bad intentions. On the thirteenth day, you spend the day connecting with nature and jumping over fire to increase your prosperity for the year. You also throw the sabzeh from the sofreh into any body of water, carrying your sickness away and bringing new beginnings into the fresh year.

Persian New Year is a beautiful holiday celebrating the start of spring, the start of life, and the start of a new year. So, if you or any of your friends are celebrating, Happy Nowruz and Eid Shomah Mobarak!

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