Nowruz: Persian New Year’s Eve, a Tradition that Spans for Thousands of Years
Nowruz is the Persian New Year’s Eve which marks the beginning of a new year in the Solar Calendar. Nowruz tradition dates back to more than 3000 years ago. It is the celebration of the spring when the earth is rejuvenated and brings about the promise of a new way of life. Apart from Iran, Nowruz is celebrated in most Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, etc. Nowruz is celebrated in other parts of the world, including Central Asia, South Asia, the Balkans, and East Africa. Nowruz is the celebration of a new life and a new beginning for both the earth and the human beings living on earth. The celebration of Nowruz in Iran is a common tradition passed between generations.
The Difference between Solar Year and Gregorian Calendar
The Iranian Solar calendar was established in 1922. Iranian solar year starts with the first day of the spring. Each solar year has 12 months, including Farvardin (31 days), Ordibehesht (31 days), Khordad (31 days), Tir (31 days), Mordad (31 days), Shahrivar (31 days), Mehr (30 days), Aban (30 days), Azar (30 days), Dey (30 days), Bahman (30 days), and Esfand (29-30 days). Every four years, the last month of the year, Esfand, has 30 days which makes it a leap year. This year marks the 1401st year of the solar calendar.
Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar used in most parts of the world, was proposed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582; It starts on January 1st. The Julian calendar, the calendar that preceded the Gregorian calendar, celebrated the New Year on December the 25th, the birth date of Jesus Christ. However, as of 1600, January the 1st was decided as the first day of the year and the time from December 25th and January 1st was traditionally celebrated as Christmas Holidays. This year marks the 2022nd year of the Gregorian calendar.
The Haft Sin Table
Haft Sin table is the most significant part of the Nowruz Tradition. After the convergence of Iranians to Islam, they replaced the original Nowruz table with the Haft Sin table. The original Nowruz table was the Haft Shin table which included the items: Sharab (red wine), Shamshad (Buxus), Shahd (Honey), Sham (Candle), Shirini (Cookies), Sharbat (Syrup), and Shaghayegh (Poppy Flower) which was later replaced by the Haft Sin table. Iranians have a tradition of welcoming the New Year’s by setting the Haft Sin table. The Haft Sin table is a table set by ‘Haft’ items – ‘Haft’ is a Farsi term for that stands for number ‘Seven’ – that start with ‘Sin’ - suggesting ‘items that start with ‘s’ in Farsi language’. The Haft Sin is a table of 7, or more, items that start with the letter ‘s’ in the Farsi language. Each item brings about a special notion that the household would like to experience in the New Year.
Other items that are traditionally placed on the Haft Sin table include the following:
Ayeneh (Mirror): A mirror is also placed on the Haft Sin table since it represents the sense of honesty and truth. After all, the mirror never lies, it shows what it sees. Placing a mirror on the table sets out a sense of truthfulness and honesty with oneself and others in motion for the coming year.
The Holy Quran: the Holy Quran is an item that is most certainly placed on the Haft Sin table within a Muslim and Iranian household. Upholding the teachings of Islam and the Quran is what a Muslim is always aspiring to. Specifically, at the beginning of a new year, a true Muslim commits to serving his God with whatever he does and asks his God to guide his steps through His divine plan.