Nowruz, Iranian New Year, has got deep roots among ancient Iranians, particularly farmers. As their lives depended largely on agriculture and producing food, it has got strong connection to such lifestyle. You need to know Nowruz history and roots of Nowruz Celebration to understand it better.

Preparing for Nowruz Celebration in Persepolis

Preparing for Nowruz Celebration in Persepolis

When no agricultural activities were possible in Winter, each individual used to go home and try to keep warm on his/her own. The end of Winter and beginning of Spring, when it got warm again and the people, most of whom were farmers, could get out and come together for work and produce food, the time for togetherness started. This could be a solid reason for Nowruz celebration!

Nowruz & Mythology

According to the ancient myths, when Iranian mythological king, Jamshid, ruled in Iran for 1000 years, everything was good. Food was abundant, lies didn’t exist, plants didn’t go dry, people didn’t suffer from extreme cold and hot weather conditions, nobody got old, jealous, etc.

During such time and at the beginning of first day of the first month of Spring, Jamshid sat on his throne decorated with gems and put on a crown encrusted with jewels, against the East. When the Sun started shining at him and the throne, people saw him glittering like the Sun. Therefore, this brought plenty of happiness and joy to the nation. They celebrated that day and called it a new day, Nowruz. The happy ceremonies took five days and everyone celebrated the New Year and the revival of nature.

Nowruz & History

Since 3rd millenium BC, Nowruz was commemorated with joy in Iranian plateau, but not in the Eastern half of Iran. At the same time, it was celebrated in the Mesopotamia. Nowruz history doesn’t originally go back to a Zoroastrian nor an Aryan tradition.

Nowruz Celebration by Ancient Iranians

Nowruz Celebration by Ancient Iranians

 

There was another festivity popularly celebrated after the time of harvest around early November. During that time, Iranian calendar had 7 months of Summer and 5 months of Winter. Mehregan was at the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. The cause of joy was the crops harvested, meaning food for people.

Nowruz and Mehregan were celebrated in several other adjacent countries. For example they were popular among Semites, Arabs of Medina, etc. These annual celebration have continued till now in various countries.

When you study Nowruz history, you find out it wasn’t a Zoroastrian festivity, because Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrians, hasn’t mentioned it. On the other hand, it wasn’t celebrated at the Eastern half of Iran, where the main concentration of Zoroastrians used to live. One fact is for sure: Nowruz was celebrated in Persepolis.

Nowruz Festivity in Ancient Calendars

In Achaemenian era, people and officials commemorated Nowruz in form of an annual tradition everywhere – at home and in Persepolis. Some researchers believe that during early Achaemenian era, Mehregan was celebrated in Fall, but under Darius I, the beginning of Spring was determined to be the time for the annual festivity in Persepolis.

The Persian king was sitting in a particular direction and specific spot in Persepolis so that daylight could shine at his face at sunrise. This is why Persepolis is known as the throne of Jamshid and Iranians call it Takht-e-Jamshid.

In Parthian and Sassanian eras, various calendars caused the day of Nowruz to move to other days as the calculation for different calendars were not the same.

Iranians continued celebrating Nowruz even after Arabs’ invasion, which brought Islam to Iran. Arab caliphs weren’t happy about this at all, but Iranian Muslims kept on honoring and celebrating their national rituals.

Under Seljuks, when Turk authorities were very much against Nowruz festivities, Iranian calendar went through several manipulative changes. Eventually, a group of mathematicians were assigned a project to correct the calendar including Omar Khayyam. They fixed Nowruz time at the beginning day of Spring, almost the same as 21st of March, when Iranians celebrate Nowruz these days.

When Safavids ruled in Iran from 16th to 18th centuries, Nowruz celebration was mixed with some Islamic rituals. Religious leaders narrated traditions from Imams to approve that the prophet Mohammad and others did great things at such a day. Therefore, today Iranian Shiites celebrate Nowruz as an annual Iranian-Islamic event and even recognize it as a holy and blessed day.

Special Items to Buy for Nowruz Ceremonies

Special Items to Buy for Nowruz Ceremonies

 

This is the second part of the series of activities people are involved in before Nowruz and after that.

More Customs and Traditions before Nowruz

Below is the list of more customs and traditions of the Iranian New Year:

Making Noise with Spoon

Young girls/women hit the bowls at Chaharshanbeh Soori

Young girls/women hit the bowls at Chaharshanbeh Soori

Decent girls and women, who had wishes like getting married, walked out at night with copper bowls and hit them with spoons at the threshold of seven doors without saying anything. The house dwellers knew they had certain wishes and replied with putting certain things like nuts, cookies, rice, legumes, etc at their bowls.

Refusing to give away anything would mean to those women that their needs wouldn’t be met. Receiving something, on the other hand, had the opposite meaning of the former.

Unlocking the Lock

According to various local customs and traditions before Nowruz, single girls who wanted better luck in getting married, went through different rituals. Sometimes, a mother chased her daughter with a piece of burning wood. It was symbolic of giving her away to her husband.

Sometimes, girls took bath in a particular spring to get married or married women did the same thing to push out the bad luck from their home and win their husbands’ love.

Several similar works were carried out at the night before the last Wednesday of the year to unlock the locked happiness of their lives.

Jar Breaking

Women used to break jars to keep their household safe

Women used to break jars to keep their household safe

 

The women, who wanted to keep away evil from their household, went to the roof or some designated tower in their communities to throw down a new (not used) jars to break them. They believed this could keep their families safe.

Taking Amen by Jars

Women used to come together with a narrow-spout jar and everyone threw some object into it. Another woman wrote some love poems on small pieces of paper and threw them into the same jar. Then, a very young girls (who wasn’t grown up yet), was asked to take out an object and a piece of paper. The poem would say something about the life of the owner of the object.

Breaking Spells

Some made a particular liquid mixture with vinegar and sprinkled it at four corners of their houses, the rooms and the entrance to break the spells and let the blessing flow in their lives.

Chaharshanbeh Soori Soup

Special soup is prepared for Chaharshanbeh Soori celebration

Special soup is prepared for Chaharshanbeh Soori celebration

 

If someone was ill, his/her family made a votive soup at the night before the last Wednesday of the year. Some of it was given to the ill person and the rest was distributed among the poor. This was to bring back health to the ill person by some charitable act.

Distributing Chaharshanbeh Soori Nuts

Some nuts were bought by the women who had particular wishes. They bought a combination of seven different nuts, cleaned and unshelled them to eat the kernels with family, relatives and friends. While having the nuts, they narrated a particular story. Today this tradition is just to have something to eat and enjoy.

Remembering the Deceased

This pre-Nowruz tradition, like in many other nations, has got roots in the antiquity. Even in different religions, people tend to remember the beloved ones they have lost in specific days.
In some areas of Iran, people still keep this tradition in various ways. Some light up lanterns or put some fire on the roofs and turn on lights sooner at the last day of the year and keep them going until the dawn of the first day of the New Year.

In some other areas, firework on hilltops and outdoor is the tradition to remember the deceased. Other forms of such remembering are like burning candles at different corners of home. In particular cities, illumination of shops and fireworks symbolized such occasion. Today firework at the night before the last Wednesday of the year, Chaharshanbeh Soori, is another form of this tradition.

Conclusion

In general, people have been keeping several customs and traditions before Nowruz indicating the end of the old and the beginning of the new. They need to remember the dead ones and keep living in happiness and health.

Once a year, people get prepared for another year at Nowruz, 21st of March, by keeping such customs and traditions. This creates a state of bliss and joyfulness in everyone.

 

Nowruz Entertainer

Nowruz Entertainer

 

Since ancient times, Iranians have observed various customs and traditions before Nowruz (Iranian New Year) and after that. These are a series of activities that take different forms in various parts of Iran. Below is a list of some activities people have been involved to get prepared for this annual festivity.

Main Customs and Traditions before Nowruz

There are several activities going on among Iranians before the new year starts. You can read some of the main ones here and continue learning about them on the next part!

Nowruz Messengers

They are some groups of entertainers who bring the message of the New Year at public places by singing, dancing, acting, etc to make people happy. Such tradition has had various names and forms at different parts of Iran. What has been common among all of them is the intention to bring happy time to the people regardless of the clothes they wear, songs they sing and appearances they make.

At such days before Nowruz and sometimes several days after the equinox, people give presents to one another and to those messengers who entertain the whole community.

To Get Prepared for Nowruz

In ancient times, Iranians who have been mostly farmers, planted seven types of seeds of wheat, barley, beans, corn, chickpeas, rice, etc on top of column-like cylinders so that the green plants could grow at the outset of the New Year. This could bring the good news of the blessed New Year ahead. The plant growing better could be a sign of better crop from that seed in the year to come.

Today people plant seeds likewise about 2 or 3 weeks before Nowruz at small plates or vessels. At the end of Nowruz holidays, they take them out of their homes and leave them in nature and sometimes throw them into the running water. Here are some of the customs and traditions before Nowruz:

Home Clean-up before Nowruz

This happens at all levels at homes. People take dust away from walls, floors, household stuff, etc. They also wash vessels, clothes, curtains, carpets, etc and bleach copper vessels and soothe-stricken walls. Old broken things are thrown out or given away. Instead, new stuff replaces them so that everything is renewed. This is done every year before Nowruz.

All such cleaning customs at home symbolize the removal of evil from home and living environment and prepare a clean home to welcome the spirits of their beloved ones who had lost their lives.

Chaharshanbeh Soori

Jumping over fire at Chaharshanbeh Soori

Jumping over fire at Chaharshanbeh Soori

The last Wednesday of the year is celebrated by fireworks one night before it comes. Soor means celebration. Among some Iranians like Kurds, it means red. Ancient Iranians celebrated the end of the year by setting up the red flames of fire at the roofs of their houses showing the way to the spirits of their lost ones so that they could reunite with them.

Another tradition kept by the people is to put 3, 5 or 7 heaps of dry bushes and thorns in a row, set them on fire and jump over them one after another. In various parts of Iran, they sing different songs while jumping. The content of all such short songs are focused on giving away their pain, sorrow and illness to gain health, happiness and fresh lives. Then, ashes are thrown into running water.

Water Sprinkling Games

Another tradition before Nowruz is water sprinkling games. Women used to go to water springs to bring water home to sprinkle it over everything. They believed this would bring freshness and health to their lives. Some Kurds fetch water from a spring before sunrise in jars and jumped over them three times. They made up their eyes with charcoal, drank from these jars and offer them to their neighbors and friends. Some women trim their fingernails or cut a little of their hair and left them to rivers so that water took their misery and pain away.

Eavesdropping

An interesting custom among Iranians before Nowruz is eavesdropping. Girls and women who would like to get married, go on pilgrimage, journeys, etc, used to go out and stand at crossroads and corners for overhearing what others say. If they heard pleasant happy words, it would indicate a happy blessed year was ahead of them. If bitter and sorrowful words were heard, they wouldn’t reach their goals and their wishes wouldn’t come true.

 

 

Sizdeh Bedar ~ 13th Day of Nowruz
Iran Nature Day
Spring in Iran is truly the season of renewal of nature’s life. The pleasant fragrance of flowers of spring has spread all over Iran. Seedlings emerged from the soil and lawn-like green velvets has covered gardens and plains.

Mountains are full of colorful flowers whereas the yellow, white and red flowers amidst the green lawn have granted a specific beauty to the nature of spring.

 

 

Iran is home to numerous climates, every part of which welcomes eco-tourists. The Iranian people are highly interested in nature which is a divine blessing. Watching the green landscapes, coupled with pondering in the power and glory of God are parts of benefits of presence in the green and beautiful nature. The holy Quran considers the scene of creation as the display of God’s glory and magnificence, and in many ayahs invites mankind to ponder in the nature so that he realizes the profound wisdom, prudence, and management of God Almighty. Therefore, the Iranian families, inspired by the Islamic culture, view and respect the nature as one of the great divine blessings. In various opportunities, the Iranians spend their times in the nature and try to keep it clean.

Throughout the initial days of spring in Iran, people visit their relatives and friends. Today is 13th of the Iranian month of Farvardin, referred to as The Day of Nature, which marks the end of Norouz celebrations. On this day, according to an ancient Iranian tradition, people leave their home and spend the day outdoors to enjoy the nature, far from the anxieties of the everyday life. They also take with them some foods such as nuts, fruits and even their lunch. This raises a golden opportunity to describe parts of Iran’s green landscapes.

The Caspian Sea coastal belt, coupled with its thick and attractive forests, citrus fruit groves, tea farms, paddy fields and wooden houses with ceramic roofs is very beautiful. Therefore, many of the Iranian holidaymakers spend the Iranian New Year in this blessed region. The region of “Kelardasht”, which lies 50 kilometers from of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, at a 1,000-meter altitude above the sea level, is a tourist attraction site for the eco-tourists, who long for the beauties of this region. In this region, the “Velesht” lake is engulfed by Alborz Mountains, creating a unique landscape.

On The Day of Nature, the residents of Iran’s mountainous regions attend foothills to enjoy the moderate climate of these regions in spring. The high mountains blanketed with snow, deep valleys, springs, wonderful waterfalls and the natural oak forests are among the wonders of nature in Zagros mountainous regions in western Iran. Ealam province, given its natural beauties and rainfalls throughout these days, is decorated with bushes, and flowers, attracting a large number of eco-tourists to these scenic landscapes.  Upon seeing the natural beauties of Ealam, we are further touched by the infinite divine glory.

Spring season in Shiraz in southwestern Iran is familiar to all, especially those who have come to this city. All have heard of beauty of spring in this city.

When the breeze flows on pine, and orange trees, one can see the power and glory of God in the delicacy of flowers.
On the Day of Nature, the attractive nature of spring in Shiraz attracts holidaymakers to this beautiful city, leaving them with ever-lasting memories of Shirazi people’s hospitality.

The beautiful Golestan Kuh plain in the vicinity of Khansar city in Isfahan province is another place which attracts the lovers of nature on this day. In spring, the rare species of red and yellow tulips and many medical herbs adorn Golestan Kuh. The springs in various parts of this area add to its beauty and freshness. Exactly on this time in southern Iran on the shores of the Persian Gulf, the pleasant weather and the sunshine grant a specific attractiveness to the port cities as well as Qeshm and Kish islands. Nature lovers in this part of Iran witness the species of colorful fish in the waters around Kish Island.

The heights around the capital Tehran have today turned into recreational regions for tourists, mountaineers, and athletes. On the nature day, the regions surrounding Tehran such as Suleqan, Darband, and Farahzad, are host to families, who enjoy the blessed nature on this day.

Every year, several organizations in various Iranian cities try to turn the nature day into a day full of happiness and security. Therefore, they prepare certain programs for people in parks so that people end the last day of holidays in a friendly atmosphere, and refresh themselves in the New Year.