Coin Street culture: Iranian New Year 2022

A picture of a Haft-Seen table. This is used to celebrate Nowruz.

It's almost Iranian New Year! In this blog, I'll share what Iranian New Year is and how we celebrate it across Asia. 

Nowruz, also known as Iranian New Year or Persian New Year, is the national new year festivity celebrated in Iran. As an Iranian myself, this is a big part of my culture that I’m excited to share with our diverse Coin Street community!

What is Nowruz?

Nowruz is celebrated by more than 300 million people every year in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Azerbaijan, and many others throughout Asia. Unlike countries that celebrate the new year with the Gregorian calendar on the 1st of January, or the Lunar new year in February, Nowruz is typically celebrated between the 19th – 21st March every year. In 2022, Nowruz falls on Sunday 20th March at 7pm in Iran (3:30pm in the UK).

This celebration also coincides with the Spring Equinox, and for good reason! Nowruz in the Farsi language translates to “New Day”. The observance of Nowruz is all about the celebration of rebirth and the link between humans and nature. It occurs during spring when nature begins to bloom once again after a cold and dreary winter. It’s a two-week celebration of life that is spent visiting relatives, picnicking, and eating traditional foods.

Nowruz is a celebration that stretches back thousands of years to the days of Zoroastrianism (one of the world’s oldest religions) and the ancient Persian Empire. Its traditions are deeply rooted in the rich history of Iran.

Image of a Haft Seen table, with a Qur'an and apples on the table.

What is a Haft-Seen?

As you can see in the first image above, those who celebrate Nowruz set out a Haft-Seen table, which is the focus of the holiday – it’s equivalent to using a Christmas tree!

There are seven symbolic items (starting with the letter S) that are placed on the Haft-Seen table, ‘Haft’ meaning seven in Farsi and ‘Seen’ being the Farsi pronunciation of the letter S. The reasoning behind this is that the number seven is a sacred number in Zoroastrianism, the religion Nowruz is rooted in.

These seven items include:

  • Sabzeh – Wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts that are grown in a dish. These green sprouts are a symbol of rebirth and renewal of nature
  • Seeb – Apples, a symbol of health and beauty
  • Senjed – Dried oleaster berries, a symbol of wisdom and rebirth
  • Samanu – Wheat pudding, a symbol of strength and justice
  • Somaq – Sumac, a symbol of patience
  • Serkeh – Vinegar, a symbol of age and patience
  • Seer – Garlic, a symbol of a cleanse of the body and environment

The Haft-Seen table also includes other items such as a mirror, coloured eggs, and a goldfish in a bowl. The mirror symbolises reflection, the coloured eggs symbolise fertility, and the goldfish symbolises life. There is also either a Qur’an placed on the table, or a book by the Persian poet Hafez (1315 – 1390). This reflects how Nowruz is a celebration that blends its ancient roots with more recent religions and cultural traditions.

 

On a final note: from my family to yours, I’d like to wish all those celebrating Nowruz a happy New Year!

!عید نوروز مبارک / Eid Nowruz Mubarak!