Nowruz – Celebrating the Persian New Year


Nowruz, or the Persian New Year, is a festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years in many countries across the Silk Roads, including Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The festival marks spring’s start and nature’s renewal after the long winter months. Nowruz is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring, and is a time for family gatherings, gift-giving, and feasting.

Preparing for Nowruz: The Persian New Year

The preparations for Nowruz, or the Persian New Year, start weeks in advance. Known as Khaneh Tekani, or “Shaking the House,” families engage in a thorough spring cleaning of their homes, symbolizing a fresh start to the year. Carpets are washed, windows are wiped, silverware is polished, curtains are taken to the dry cleaners, and old furniture is repaired or replaced. The aim is to rid the house of all the dust and grime and welcome the New Year on a clean slate.

People start shopping for an assortment of goods, with new clothes, shoes, fruits, sweets, and nuts on the list. The Haft Seen Table is an essential part of the New Year celebrations in Iran, and local markets are packed with enthusiastic shoppers looking for special offers and last-minute bargains. The Haft Seen Table is a symbolic spread that is placed on a table and includes seven items that begin with the sound “S.” These objects symbolize purity, brightness, abundance, happiness, and fertility for the new year.

Chaharshanbe Soori: The Fire Festival

Chaharshanbe Soori is a fire festival held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the calendar year. This festival is full of special customs and rituals, especially jumping over fire. As the sun sets, people light up fires and gather around to jump over them to ask the fire to take their paleness and problems and, in return, give them energy and warmth.

The Haft Sin Table

The Haft Seen Table is a traditional table that has been set for hundreds of years in Iran. It is an essential element of the Persian New Year and represents the renewal of life. This table is set with seven items that begin with the sound “S.”

Photo by Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash

The items traditionally included on the Haft Sin Table are:

  1. Sabzeh – Wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish, symbolizing rebirth.
  2. Samanu – A sweet pudding made from wheat germ, which symbolizes power and bravery.
  3. Senjed – The dried fruit of the oleaster tree, which represents love.
  4. Seer – Garlic, which represents health and medicine.
  5. Seeb – Apples, which represent beauty and health.
  6. Somaq – Ground sumac berries, which represent the sunrise.
  7. Serkeh – Vinegar, which represents patience.

Nowruz Celebrations in Iran

The Persian New Year is a two-week celebration that is mostly about socializing and strengthening family bonds. During this period, people pay visits to each other’s houses and entertain their guests with fresh fruits and nuts. It’s tradition for the elders to give away money called “Eidi” to the children. Nowruz holiday is also a perfect opportunity for the families to go on trips, making these two weeks a prime travel season.

Sizdah Bedar: The Nature’s Day

The holidays culminate in a special festival called Sizdah Bedar, which falls on the 13th and the last day of the holidays. It is celebrated outdoors, and people go to parks and the countryside to have a picnic. The aim is to get rid of the so-called “curse” of number 13. Children play football, badminton and Ping-Pong, fly kites and enjoy a game of Frisbee while the elders prepare lunch. Making kebabs is a tradition, and men usually take the lead. They start preparing the charcoal grill while the ladies thread the meat onto the skewers.

One of the main reasons why Nowruz is the best time to visit Iran is the weather. With spring in full swing, the country comes alive with vibrant colors and blooming flowers. The days are sunny and warm, and the nights are cool and pleasant. It’s the perfect time for outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and exploring the stunning landscapes that Iran has to offer.

During Nowruz, Iranians are in high spirits and more welcoming than ever. Families and friends gather to share meals, exchange gifts, and participate in traditional activities such as jumping over bonfires and setting up haft-seen tables. It’s a time when the streets are buzzing with excitement, and everyone is eager to share this special time with visitors.

What’s more, Nowruz is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Iranian culture. From discovering the country’s incredible architectural wonders to sampling its delicious cuisine, there is no shortage of things to see and do. You can also witness traditional music and dance performances, attend local festivals, and observe ancient rituals that have been passed down through generations.

In conclusion, Nowruz is a magical time to visit Iran. With perfect weather, a festive atmosphere, and an abundance of cultural experiences to discover, it’s no wonder that travelers from around the world flock to Iran during this vibrant event. So why not plan your trip now and experience the wonders of Nowruz for yourself?

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

What to Do in Iran During Nowruz 

As a traveler in Iran during the Nowruz festival, you can expect to be welcomed with open arms and experience a cultural spectacle like no other.

Here are some of the best things to do during Nowruz as a traveler in Iran:

Witness the New Year Fireworks: One of the highlights of Nowruz is the spectacular fireworks display that lights up the skies on the eve of the New Year. You can watch the fireworks from any open space or park, but the best place to be is on a rooftop or a hill where you can get a panoramic view of the city.

Attend the National Festival of Nowruz: The National Festival of Nowruz is a grand event that takes place in Tehran’s Sa’adabad Cultural and Historical Complex. The festival features music, dance, food, and crafts from different parts of Iran and other countries. You can also witness traditional performances and games, such as Chaghoo Chaghoo (a tug-of-war on horseback).

Take Part in Chaharshanbe Suri: Chaharshanbe Suri, meaning “Red Wednesday,” is an ancient fire festival held on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz. People light bonfires in the streets and jump over them to cleanse themselves of the past year’s sins and bad luck. You can take part in this exciting ritual and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Visit Historical Sites: Iran has a rich cultural heritage, and there is no better time to explore its historical sites than during Nowruz. You can visit ancient Persian monuments such as Persepolis, Pasargadae, and Naqsh-e Jahan Square to learn about the country’s glorious past and witness traditional ceremonies that take place in these sites during Nowruz.

Travel to Iran During Nowruz

Traveling to Iran can be done in many styles, and every traveler can choose the one that suits them best. Whether you prefer to go solo, with a friend, or as part of a group, Iran has something to offer for everyone. However, as a first-time traveler to Iran, it is recommended to join a tour, and there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, when traveling with a tour, you will have the opportunity to explore Iran without needing to worry about the logistics, including accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing. An experienced tour company can plan all of your travel itineraries, so you don’t need to spend time and effort arranging everything yourself.

Secondly, with a tour, you can maximize your time and maximize the benefits of exploring Iran. You can visit different cities, meet locals, and learn about Iran’s culture, history, art, and cuisine in a short period. Iran is a vast country with many attractions, so having local knowledge can make a big difference.

Thirdly, traveling with a tour group can provide you with a sense of security, particularly if you are traveling alone or as a first-time traveler to Iran. You will have a local guide who will be available to help you throughout the trip, answer your questions, and make sure that you are enjoying your time in Iran.

So, if you are planning to visit Iran and want to get the best out of your trip, joining a tour can be a smart decision. If you are interested in exploring Iran with a tour, we at ToIranTour, provide Iran tours and travel packages a reputable travel agency that offers unique and customized tours to Iran. They have a team of experienced experts who can plan your trip based on your interests, budget, and preferred style. Their tours cover various aspects of Iran’s culture, history, nature, and hospitality, and you can be sure that you will have an unforgettable experience.

In conclusion, traveling to Iran can be done in any travel style, but joining a tour can be a better option for many reasons. When traveling with a tour, you can relax, enjoy, learn, and explore Iran without hassle and feel safe and secure. So, get ready to discover Iran, and check out the customised Iran Tours available on ToIranTour.

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