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About Persian New Year & Haft-Seen


The Persian New Year, or Nowruz, is an ancient celebration that has been observed for thousands of years, primarily in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian countries. Nowruz is a celebration of the spring equinox, which occurs around March 20th or 21st, and symbolizes the beginning of a new year, the renewal of nature, and the start of the agricultural season. The origins of Nowruz can be traced back to Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that was practiced in ancient Persia. Over time, Nowruz evolved to include various cultural and religious traditions, and it is now celebrated by people of diverse backgrounds around the world. This article offers an overview of the rich history and traditions surrounding the celebration of the Persian New Year. In particular, it delves into the iconic Haft-Seen Table, exploring its origins, its meaningful symbols, and the role it plays in the festivities.


Correct Date to Celebrate

The date for the Persian New Year, or Nowruz, is determined by the solar calendar and is usually observed on the day of the spring equinox, which occurs on March 20th or 21st. However, the exact date can vary depending on the astronomical observations of the time of the equinox, which can differ by a few hours or even a day, depending on the location.


To determine the exact time of the spring equinox, astronomers use sophisticated tools and observations to measure the position of the sun and other celestial bodies. Once the exact time of the equinox is determined, it is announced to the public, and the celebrations begin.


It is important to note that while the date for Nowruz is determined by the solar calendar, the Persian calendar is a lunar calendar, which means that it follows the cycles of the moon. This can cause the date of other cultural and religious events to shift from year to year, but Nowruz is generally observed on the same day every year, around the time of the spring equinox.


Haft-Seen Table

Nowruz is celebrated in many different ways, depending on the country and community. One of the most common traditions is the setting up of a Haft-Seen table, which is a table that is decorated with seven symbolic items that start with the Persian letter "sin" or "seen," hence the name Haft-Seen (haft means "seven" in Persian).


The seven items typically include:

  • Sabzeh - sprouts or grass, representing rebirth and growth.

  • Samanu - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, representing affluence and fertility.

  • Seeb - apples, representing beauty and health.

  • Senjed - dried fruit from the lotus tree, representing love.

  • Serkeh - vinegar, representing age and patience.

  • Sib - garlic, representing medicine and health.

  • Somagh - sumac berries, representing the color of sunrise and the victory of good over evil.

  • In addition to these seven items, Haft-Seen tables may also include other symbolic items, such as a mirror, candles, coins, poetry book of Hafiz, and eggs.

The Haft-Seen table is an important part of the Nowruz celebration, and it is typically set up several days before the start of the new year. The table is meant to bring good luck and blessings for the coming year, and each item has a specific meaning and significance. The Haft-Seen is a way for families to come together and celebrate the new year, and it is a beautiful display of Persian culture and traditions.


Other Items on Haft-Seen Table

In addition to the traditional seven symbolic items on the Haft-Seen table, other items may also be included, such as decorated eggs, clock, mirror, coins, candles, and goldfish.


Eggs

One of the items commonly included on the Haft-Seen table is eggs, which symbolize fertility, new beginnings, and the bringing of new life. These eggs can be decorated and placed on the table as a decorative item, or they can be boiled and prepared as a dish.


Goldfish

Goldfish, or "mahee" in Persian, are also a common addition to the Haft-Seen table. They are believed to represent life and the flow of energy, and are kept in a bowl or vase on the table.


Mirror

Mirror is believed to symbolize self-reflection, the reflection of one's soul, and spirituality. It is also said to represent the sky and the universe. The mirror is placed on the table facing outward to encourage individuals to look inside themselves and reflect on their actions, thoughts, and words in the past year while also looking to the future with hope and optimism.


Candles

Candles symbolize fire and enlightenment. The candle represents light, energy, and warmth, and it also signifies the victory of good over evil. During the Nowruz celebration, the family lights the candles, and they burn throughout the night to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness.


Clock

While the other items on the table symbolize various aspects of life, the clock represents the concept of time and the passing of the year. It is meant to remind people of the importance of using their time wisely and not wasting it. The clock is typically placed next to the mirror on the table, which symbolizes reflection and self-reflection.


Coins

The coins are typically included to symbolize wealth and prosperity in the coming year. The act of placing coins on the Haft-Seen table is also seen as a way to ask for blessings and good fortune in terms of financial abundance. So, coins on the Haft-Seen table have a symbolic meaning related to prosperity and abundance.


The White House

The White House has recognized the importance of Nowruz since at least 2010, when President Obama issued a statement marking the occasion. Since then, various White House administrations have continued to celebrate Nowruz, with events such as receptions and statements recognizing the holiday's importance as a symbol of peace, friendship, and renewal.


UNESCO

Nowruz was officially recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. This recognition acknowledges the importance of Nowruz as a symbol of cultural diversity and solidarity, and it helps to ensure that the holiday will continue to be celebrated and preserved for generations to come.


In conclusion, Nowruz is a beautiful and ancient celebration that has been observed for thousands of years by people of diverse backgrounds around the world. The date for the Persian New Year is determined by the solar calendar, and it usually falls on the day of the spring equinox, around March 20th or 21st. The Haft-Seen table is an essential part of the Nowruz celebration, and it is a way for families to come together and celebrate the new year with blessings and good wishes.




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