FC: A New Year A New Day: An Iranian New Years Celebration | By Kirsten Aue | A New Year A New Day: An Iranian New Year Celebration
1: It was that time of year again for Suzanne, Easter dress shopping.
2: As Suzanne browsed through a clothing rack of dresses she spied Lily, her friend and neighbor coming out of a dressing room nearby. " Lily! What are you doing here? Buying an Easter dress too?" Lily gave Suzanne a big wave, "No silly I am here buying my New Years outfit." "New Years?" Suzanne exclaimed. "Why New Years Eve happened months ago. !"
3: Lilly began to laugh, "Well in the Persian culture we celebrate our New Years on the vernal equinox each year. You should come over and wear your Easter dress to celebrate with us! Momma and Poppa would love to have you! The more people we can spread happiness to the more blessed we will be in the upcoming year." Suzanne replied, "Ok Ill check with my parents."
4: On the Wednesday before the New Years celebration, Lily called Suzanne. "You must come over this evening to celebrate the Charashanbe-Suri." "The what?" said Suzanne. "The Festival of Fire! It happens the last Wednesday each year before Nowruz," stated Lily. "Nowruz? What celebration is that?" giggled Suzanne. "Nowruz is another word for the Iranian New Year. Now just come over tonight and I'll show you what it's all about."
5: That evening Suzanne walked the one block over to Lily's parents house. Cars were parked alongside the street and in the driveway. Suzanne had no idea how big this celebration must for Lily's family and friends. Lily greeted her at the door, "Come on in. We have to go out back to the patio so you can watch me jump over the fire!" "Wait you're jumping over a fire? Why would you do that Lily?" Suzanne asked inquisitively. Lily's Poppa Golum piped up from across the room, "In Persian culture we jump over the fire to get rid of bad spirits, problems, or failures from the past year. Would you like to see?"
6: Suzanne followed Lily and her Poppa to the backyard patio were a group was congregating. They had already jumped the fire, it was now Lily's turn. Lily smiled brightly and she jumped bravely over the flames. "Your turn Suzanne," she shouted. Suzanne hesitated, she feared falling into the fire or burning her legs. She worried the crackling fire would singe her skin.
7: "Come on! You have to go!" Lily said with a grin. Suzanne began to sweat,"Oh alright fine." She took a deep breath and leaped over the fire. Lily and Poppa began to clap. "Now you have rid yourself of all the bad spirits of the past year," said Poppa.
8: Suzanne awoke on March 20th with excitement. Today was the celebration of Nowruz. She quickly dressed herself in the Easter dress she had picked out and hurried to Lily's house. When she arrived Lily's mother Etty was rushing around the living room. "My mother is gathering items for the Haft-Sin," Lily explained.
9: Etty paused after laying down the tablecloth, "Suzanne the Haft-Sin is going to be displayed on this table. It will be seven special items that start with the letter S in Farsi, our native language." Lily bounced with excitement, "We put sabze, which is basically grass on the table to represent rebirth in the new year, and the samanu is so yummy. It's sweet pudding that represents affluence." "No Eating just yet!" whispered Etty.
10: Suzanne looked around the table and asked,"What are all of these other items? Why is there is so much fruit on the table?" Etty smiled and explained, "The dried fruit you see is senjed to represent love, the apples are the sib, which symbolizes beauty, and the berries are called somaq, which represents sunrise."
11: Lilly held up a candle, "This is the sham, it represents fire. We also have smelly garlic that is called sir in Farsi." Etty rolled her eyes, "The sir represents medicine. We also have serkeh which is vinegar that symbolizes age and patience. Speaking of patience, Lily you've waited long enough, would you like to decorate the eggs?"
12: Walking into the kitchen Suzanne was surprised to see eggs sitting on the table. Lily grabbed one and handed it to her. "I always decorate eggs to put on the table." The two began decorating as they awaited the arrival of other family members.
13: As members of Lily's family began to arrive, Suzanne noticed other items on the Haft-Sin table. A mirror and goldfish in a bowl had been added. Lily explained, "The mirror symbolizes the sky and the goldfish represents animals." Etty rushed by, "I almost forgot the golab!" "Golab is rose water," murmured Lily.
14: After all of the family members had arrived and the celebration was in full swing, Suzanne was served dill rice and codfish for dinner. "My parents make this meal every Nowruz," Lilly exclaimed.
15: Suzanne was finishing up her meal when Lily's Poppa walked over. "Suzanne, I have something to give you," he whispered. Golum handed Suzanne a two dollar bill.. Suzanne looked over at Lily who had received the same gift. "Thank you so much Poppa," said Lily. "Each year he gives me a two dollar bill to represent prosperity in the new year," she explained. "Thank you so much," Suzanne said smiling at Poppa. "The elder always gives to the younger," Golum replied.
16: That evening Suzanne met many members of Lily's family. Most of them were in good spirits and chattering about the upcoming Sizdah-Bedar. Suzanne was confused. She thought that today was the New Year, what more could there be? "Well Nowruz is the Iranian New Year which stands for new day," said her Uncle. "Thirteen days from now we will go down to the park to celebrate 13 Bedar," said Lily's cousin.
17: Lily proceeded to explain Sizdah-Bedar to Suzanne. "On the 13th day after Nowruz we leave our house and spend the day outside with all of our family and friends. Bedar means to go out in Persian. You should come with us too!"
18: After returning home that evening, Suzanne told her parents that she enjoyed Iranian New Year just as much as her own New Years celebration. "I just don't know which celebration to choose! I love that we stay up until midnight and watch the ball drop in New York for our New Years. Eating beans and cornbread on New Years day is always something I look forward to also," Suzanne exclaimed. Suzanne's mother knelt down, "You don't have to choose between the two. If you enjoy two New Years than you should celebrate both. "
19: On the day of 13 Bedar Suzanne rode her bike to Keyes Park to meet Lily, her family and other members of the Persian community. Children were playing games of soccer and Frisbee. Adults played horseshoes and laid on blankets to soak up the sunlight.
20: After playing hopscotch with Lily, the entire group enjoyed a potluck lunch. During lunch Lily began to contemplate, "I don't know what my wish for the New Year is quite yet." "Like a New Years resolution?" questioned Suzanne. "Not really, resolutions are more like promises to yourself , these are truly wishes for the new year."
21: Soon after lunch, people began to gather around a picnic table to write down their wishes on tiny slips of paper. Lily sat there stumped. Suzanne sat next to her, "You should write a wish too," declared Lily.
22: Lily pushed a pen towards Suzanne and continued to write. Suzanne pondered about what her wish should be. Her thoughts started racing, "A trip to Disneyland, a pizza for dinner every night, world peace." Finally she made her decision.
23: Everyone at the park began walking towards th lake. Etty handed Suzanne some grass, "Remember this is called sabze. We will tie our wishes to this grass and release it into the water."
24: Suzanne looked around at all of the wishes floating out onto the lake. Lily turned to her, " Well what did you wish for?" "If I tell you it won't come true," replied Suzanne. "Oh come on Suzanne don't be superstitious," coaxed Lily. "I have a feeling I will be able to make many more wishes each year I celebrate Nowruz. Even though I am not Persian I want to still celebrate."
25: Lily and Suzanne looked towards the sun setting on the lake. It was a new year and new day for the both of them.
26: "Suzanne" and Lily.