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Welcome Spring and Happy Nowruz

Let the thaw begin and the sun shine in! Spring has sprung and with that comes new hope for life popping up all around us. Today I want to share information about Nowruz which is one of humanities oldest holiday and is also called Persian New Year. It actually predates the Persian Empire and can be traced back 5000 years to the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations.

It’s interesting that Nowruz is also known as Noruz, Novruz, and Norroz all which mean the same “New Day”. In 2010 the United Nation’s named it the “International Day of Nowruz” therefore for this debrief on the holiday I will use Nowruz.

Nowruz begins on either March 20 or 21st, on the spring equinox when the days and nights are of equal length, with days becoming longer signifying the warmer weather. It marks the end of the old year and start of the new one and actually begins on the exact second the equinox does.

There is much celebration leading up to this day. On every Tuesday prior to Nowruz there is a celebration dedicated to a different element.

  1. First is Water Tuesday where water renews nature

  2. Second is Fire Tuesday which honours fire as a method of rebirth

  3. Third is Earth Tuesday marking the revival of earth

  4. And finally fourth is Wind Tuesday which is when wind opens the buds and marks the arrival of spring

Worshiping fire forms an integral part of the celebrations and they are lit on every Tuesday. Then on the last Tuesday, Chaharshanbeh Suri (Eve of Red Wednesday), everyone jumps over the fire to purify themselves. Purification and starting fresh is key. That is why before Nowruz, activities include spring cleaning, planting trees, making new clothes and painting eggs.

In these weeks leading up to Nowruz, families set aside a space for a “haft-seen” a collection of items that symbolize a different hope for the new year. Many families add their own flavour to the haft-seen, however these seven are always included:

  • Sabzeh: Some kind of sprout or grass that will continue to grow in the weeks leading up to the holiday, for rebirth and renewal

  • Senjed: Dried fruit, ideally a sweet fruit from a lotus tree, for love

  • Sib: Apples, for beauty and health

  • Seer: Garlic, for medicine and taking care of oneself

  • Samanu: A sweet pudding, for wealth and fertility

  • Serkeh: Vinegar, for the patience and wisdom that comes with aging

  • Sumac: A Persian spice made from crushed sour red berries, for the sunrise of a new day

These seven “S” items are the foundation of a haft-seen which literally means seven S’s. However the tradition has evolved to add items such as coins for prosperity, mirror for reflection, coloured eggs for fertility and a goldfish for new life.

Once Nowruz begins there are 13 days of family celebrations reflecting on the year ahead. On the 13th day the families take the sabzeh, that has been growing, to whatever body of running water and let it float away, to release the old and bring in the new year.

This is a special time for the elders as they get respect from all the family but the children are also the winners as throughout the celebration they get yummy treats and money to align to the fresh start theme.

During Nowruz there is plenty of food being served but the centerpiece favourites you will see at the table are sabzi polow bam ahi, an herbed rice served with whitefish and kuku sabzi of which the ingredients are similar to a frittata, such as eggs, herbs and more.

The hope of being able to start new and better is about as universal as it comes. Which might explain why Nowruz has thrived generations after generations.

However you celebrate the new beginnings of Spring, get outside and enjoy the new life growing around you. It truly is amazing to have the freedoms of our great outdoors. Live life Well Always!


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