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Happy Norooz: The History and True Birth of This Celebration

Today, I'm thrilled to share some insights into a tradition close to my heart, one that's not just a cultural festivity but a profound celebration of renewal and new beginnings. Norooz is coming so let's get into it!


Norooz: The True History


First off, let's clear the air: Norooz isn't a Muslim holiday. It's a gem from the treasure trove of Zoroastrianism, an ancient faith that predates many religions and holds a special place in my heart. Norooz (sometimes spelled Nowruz) was founded by Prophet Zarathushtra around 3500 years ago. Zoroastrianism is all about living a life of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Zoroastrianism is arguably the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. Norooz means "new day."

Zoroastrianism grew to be a dominant faith in the ancient era, serving as the state religion of Persia (now known as ancient Iran) from 600 B.C. to 650 A.D. In the modern world, the number of Zoroastrians has dwindled to approximately 190,000 globally.

In Zoroastrian temples, a perpetual flame is maintained to symbolize the everlasting power of Ahura Mazda. Additionally, fire is esteemed for its potent purifying qualities.

Chaharshanbe Suri, an age-old and lively festival in Iran, is deeply cherished among Iranians. It is observed on the eve of the year's last Wednesday, serving as an introduction to the extensive celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The custom of Chaharshanbe Suri is the ancient tradition of jumping over bonfires. While the fire flickers and pops, individuals of all ages leap over the flames, a gesture thought to rid them of sickness and bad luck. This practice reflects the Zoroastrian appreciation of fire as a cleansing force, representing the victory of light over darkness and the rejuvenation of the soul.


The Spring Equinox: A Time of Balance and Renewal


Norooz coincides with the Spring Equinox, a time when day and night are in perfect harmony. This year, we're gathering on March 19th , 2024 at 8:06pm PST to celebrate. It's a moment that's not just about marking a new season but also about embracing the balance and renewal that comes with it. You always celebrate it with family and gather together to usher in the New Year - usually wearing brand new clothes to start the year fresh.

And guess what? Arbi and I chose this meaningful day for our wedding in 2023. We wanted our union to symbolize a fresh start, aligning our lives with the rhythms of nature and the wisdom of ancient traditions.


Sofreh Haft Seen: A Canvas of Symbolism


One of the most obvious traditions of Norooz is the Sofreh Haft Seen (Spread of 7 S's). This beautiful spread is more than just a decorative centerpiece; it's a collection of symbols, each representing hopes, dreams, and the virtues we aspire to. Here's what we include:


  1. Sabzeh (sprouted wheat grass): Symbolizing rebirth and growth.

  2. Samanu (sweet pudding): For affluence and the sweetness of life.

  3. Senjed (sweet, dried lotus tree fruit): For love and affection.

  4. Serkeh (vinegar): Representing patience and wisdom.

  5. Sir (garlic): A nod to health and medicine.

  6. Sib (apples): For beauty and health.

  7. Sumac (spice): Reminding us of the color of sunrise and the promise of a new day.


And it's not just about these items. We also include mirrors, goldfish, oranges, decorated eggs, and coins, each adding another layer of meaning and tradition to our celebration.


A Tradition Standing Strong


Because Norooz is so deeply rooted in the Zoroastrian faith, the Iranian regime has done its best to eradicate it. However, the tradition remains strong. The people of Iran won't have it—they refuse to allow the regime's disdain for this tradition to wash it away from their culture. It still holds strong and is boldly celebrated across the country.


So, as we set our Haft Seen and reflect on the year past, we also look forward with optimism and joy, inspired by the ancient wisdom of Zoroastrianism and the natural balance of the Equinox.


Happy Norooz to my Persian family and a vibrant Spring Equinox to all celebrating! Eidetoon Mobarak! سال نو مبارك


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