Nowruz and its Origins

Persian New Year has a long history. It includes some traditional cultures and symbols. If you are going to plan an Iran journey, Iranian New year would be a great time so you can celebrate Nowruz in this beautiful country.

  • The beginning of the Persian New Year 1398 (Nowruz 2019) will be on Thursday, March 21st, 2019, 1:28:27 am
Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - 11th Annual Celebration of Nowruz at UCLA's Royce Hall and Dickson Courts - Iran blog - Persian new year

11th Annual Celebration of Nowruz at UCLA’s Royce Hall and Dickson Courts

1.The dawn of Nowruz in history

Nowruz is the traditional Iranian New year which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight.” Iranians celebrate Nowruz on March 20/21 each year, at the time the sun enters Aries and spring begins. Some historical narratives attribute the beginning of Nowruz to Babylon. According to these narratives, the current trend of Nowruz in Iran dates back to 538 BC. When Cyrus the Great invaded Babylon. Also, some tales say that Zarathustra was the founder of Nowruz. Iranians have been celebrating New Year for at least 3,000 years. We deeply consider it rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion. Many Asian cultures are now celebrating Nowruz such as Iran, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The tablecloth of 7 items

Haft-Sin هفت سین is somehow the most important part of the Iranian New Year. It is a table consist of 7 Items with a common feature in Persian literature. They all start with the consonant of S.

  • Garlic sign of health
  • Coin sign of prosperity
  • Sumac taste of life sign
  • Senjed (Russian olive) sign of love
  • Apple sign of beauty and kindness
  • Sabzeh (Sprouts) sign of newness
  • Samanu sign of blessing
  • Vinegar sign of patience and happiness
  • Symbol flower or Hyacinth sign of spring

The following items of our list don’t share that common feature.

  • Mirror (sign of light)
  • Hafez and the Quran (signs of faith and belief)
  • Candle (sign of intellectual light)
  • Fish (sign of life)
  • Egg sign of fertility

On New Year’s Day, Iranian families gather around their Haft-Sin and wait for the very moment. Some families keep their Haft-Sin during the thirteen days of Nowruz.

Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - The tablecloth of 7 items - Celebration of Nowruz - Iran blog - Persian new year

The tablecloth of 7 items

3.Sabzeh and its origins

As I mentioned before Sabzeh or the Sprouts that we plant for our Haft-Sin is a sign of newness. Planting sprouts have been common among Iranian families for a long time. They usually start planting it in the last month of the year.

Sabzeh in the past:

In the past, twenty-five days before Nowruz, citizens used to build twelve pillars of raw clay in the square of cities. People used to plant 12 kinds of seeds on these pillars. On the sixth day of Farvardin, with a hymn and joy, they picked them and threw them in the air.

Some traditions:

In some cities, people consider the third Wednesday of the last month to plant their Sabzeh. They keep it till the 13th day of Farvardin to give it away to the water.

Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - Sabzeh - Mahi Celebration of Nowruz - Iran blog - Persian new year


4.The man who used to protect fire

The Persian version of Santa in Iran is Hajji Firuz! He is a fictional folklore who appears in the streets by the beginning of Nowruz. A black face, bright red clothes, and a felt hat are his features. There are different theories about the origin of Hajji Firuz. One of them says: Fire is an important element in the Zoroastrian religion. According to that, there was a man who had to protect the fire in the fire temples. Now we know that the blackface is because of the soot. He used to preserve the fire all the winter. At the beginning of spring, he left the fire temple to give the massage of New Year’s arrival.

Hajji Firuz & Amoo Nowruz

5.What to eat on New Year’s Day

Till now you must know that we have a variety of foods, fruits, vegetables and nuts in Iran. Families pay a lot of attention to what to buy for the New Year. One of our traditions is to have fish and rice mixed with a specific vegetable for New Year’s Day meal. Iranian people spend some of their holidays to visit their relatives so if you live in Iran you need to be prepared for that. For that, we buy fruits and nuts to welcome our guests.

Sabzi Polo - iran-Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - Celebration of Nowruz - Iran blog - Persian new year

Fish and rice mixed with a specific vegetable

6.Festival of fire

  • Chaharshanbe Suri is on March 19th, 2019

One of our oldest traditions is Chaharshanbe Suri. Iranian people welcome Nowruz by setting a fire and jumping over it on the last Tuesday of the solar year. On this day, people hold a ceremony to repel their evil desires and meet their aspirations. Chaharshanbe Suri dates back to centuries ago.

The appearance of fireworks in Chaharshanbe Suri:

At first, it was Nasser-al-Din Shah who brought fireworks to Iran with the help of French. First, they held it for the entertainment of Shah and after that people took part in it. In that time they held the ceremony in Toopkhaneh square, then time passed, and it became like what we can see today.

fireworks-iran-Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - Celebration of Nowruz - Iran blog - Persian new year

Festival of fire

7.Sizdah Be-dar

  • Sizdah Be-dar is on April 2nd, 2019

As we know, Sizdah Be-dar is one of Nowruz traditions. People go out to camp in nature with their families. Iranians are entirely familiar with this day, and they make lots of memories on this day. This day is too crucial among us, and we make plans for it before it comes. Name of 13th of Farvardin in our calendar is nature day, and it’s a holiday.  Families spend time playing games, cooking food in nature and lots of other activities.

sizdah-bedar-iran-Nowruz and its Origins - alibabatrek - Celebration of Nowruz - Iran blog - Persian new year

Sizdah Be-dar

*Tips for Travelling Iran during Nowruz

Now that you know about Nowruz and Iran’s atmosphere in this period, it might be a good time for you to book a Persia tour. Going on an Iran tour at this time has its own pros and cons.  Different cities of Iran have their own tradition for the New Year, and you get to see a lot at this time. Besides that in this period, most of our cities are crowded. Hotels and other places to stay are out of capacity, and it’s heavy traffic on the roads between cities. So for better management of time, we suggest you visit Iran after the holidays.


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