|The Persian Kitchen. Illustration by Linda Sawaya . Saudi Aramco World|
The origin of Nowruz can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of traditions. Nowruz was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in Persia (ancient Iran) approximately 3500 years ago. Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions , but Nowruz has been widely celebrated without religious connotations for thousands of years. It is celebrated by people all over the world and is a national holiday in 13 countries. Iranians consider Nowruz to be their biggest celebration of the year. It is also significant to the Zoroastrian community as their spiritual New Year, although their traditions differ somewhat from the secular celebrations of Nowruz. Traditionally, the character Hajji Firuz, heralds the approach of Nowruz. He wears bright red clothes and his face is covered in soot (blackened). He dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine, and is the companion of Amu Nowruz (Uncle Nowruz).
|Hajji Firuz, is a fictional character in Iranian folklore who appears in the streets by the beginning of Nowruz.|
|Chaharshanbe Suri in New York City, March 2016|
At that moment they kiss each other and wish each other a healthy and happy new year: “No-Rooz Mobarak” (Happy New Year) or “Eyd-eh Shoma Mobarak” (Happy New Year to you) or “No-Rooz Pirooz” (Wishing you a Prosperous New Year).
A key element of the Nowruz celebration is the Haft Seen table. This traditional holiday table includes 7 symbolic items, all starting with the Persian letter sīn. Each representing spring and renewal. The special table cloth, with the seven S-items, and other symbolic items (depending on local tradition).
|Haft Seen table|
- Senjed (dried oleaster fruit): representing love
- Serkeh (vinegar): representing patience and age
- Seeb (apples): representing health and beauty
- Sir (garlic): representing medicine and healing
- Samanu (wheat pudding): representing fertility and a sweet life
- Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): representing the renewal of nature
- Somagh: color of sunrise and spice of life
- Sonbol (Hyacinth flowers): representing the new spring
- Sekkeh(coin): representing prosperity
- Sabzeh Keshmesh (raisins): Sweetness of life
- Mahi Ghermez (gold fish): Life
- Tokhm Morgh e Rangi (painted eggs):representing fertility
- Ayneh (Mirror): representing reflection on the past year
- Candles or lanterns: representing light and happiness
- Live goldfish in a bowl: representing life
- An orange in water: representing the Earth
- National colours: representing patriotism
|Fig and Quince: Persian Cooking and Culture by Azita Houshiar.|
|Persian kitchen Illustration by Linda Sawaya|
- Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world. They believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God's light or wisdom. Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster. The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta. Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day and worship communally in a Fire Temple (Agiary).It is now one of the world's smallest religions.
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|17th century. Shah Abbas II of Persia and the courtiers celebrating Nowruz|