Pin It
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Nowruz (Persian New Year): March 20

Happy Nowruz!

Nowruz (Nouruz/Nowrooz/Norooz), the Persian New Year, falls on the first day of spring of the solar calendar (which is different from the Gregorian solar calendar). Nowruz is a festivity that transcends religions as it is not confined to any one religious group–it is celebrated in many countries globally including Iran, Central Asia, Turkey and in other traditional Persian communities found throughout the world. It involves a meal with relatives and friends, gift exchanges, fireworks and lots of celebratory fun.


Even though the lunar calendar is used for Muslim festivals and holidays across Iran, Nowruz follows the solar calendar, which was adopted in ancient times by the Zoroastrians. Celebrated for at least 3,000 years, Nowruz dates back to Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest religions. While Nowruz customs and traditions have evolved over time, the spirit of Nowruz remains the same.


The celebration lasts 13 days and begins in early March. To start off, it is traditional to grow sprouts from lentils, wheat, or barley seeds and thoroughly clean the house. The sprouting of the seeds is a remnant from ancient times when agrarian tribes celebrated the change of seasons. Cleaning is symbolic of keeping evil away and families open up all the windows, which most of the houses kept closed during the winter. After cleaning comes the shopping.


On Nowruz, everyone receives new clothes and buys certain items in preparation for the Haft Sin (the seven ‘S’s) table. Seven items beginning with the Persian letter “s” (sin) or “sh” (shin), which represent spring, are placed on the table. In former times, the table was called the Haft chin, but with the introduction of Islam (as Arabic has no sound for “ch”), it changed to the seven ‘S’s. The seven ‘S’s include:


Vinegar (serkeh, symbolizing age and patience–this item was formerly wine in ancient Persia, before the introduction of Islam)


Garlic (sir, symbolizing medicine)


Apple (sib, symbolizing beauty and health)


A certain type of dried fruit (senjed, symbolizing love)


Sumac fruit (somāq, symbolizing the color of sunrise)


Sprouted wheat, barley or lentils (sabzah, symbolizing rebirth)


Sweet pudding/paste (samanu, symbolizing affluence)


Additional items that may be displayed include: a mirror, candles, a bowl of water with live gold fish (mahi, symbolizing life), flowers, Iranian pastries, fruits, coins (sekeh, representing prosperity and wealth), special bread (sangak), and colorfully painted eggs, similar to Easter eggs (symbolizing fertility).


As part of the festivities, children visit their neighbors’ houses in disguise. The disguise is usually something like a veil covering the entire body. Each child carries an empty metal bowl and a metal spoon which they bang on when the neighbor answers the door. Part of the tradition is the kids remain silent, except for their spoons and bowls, and anonymous throughout the process.


On New Year’s Eve, people assemble around bonfires to celebrate and each member of the family jumps over the fire while chanting, “Sorkhi-e to az man, zardi-e man az to,” meaning give me your beautiful red color and take back my wintry, sallow complexion. Jumping over the fire represents the desire for health and happiness in the New Year by cleansing the body of illness and bad feelings. After the fire, friends and family gather and children listen to stories.


At the moment the New Year arrives, everybody kisses on the cheek or gives gifts, usually money (a bank note or a coin). Traditional foods are sabzi polo, a meal of rice, herbs and usually fish. In our recipes section, we have a kid-friendly version of this dish.


On the 13th and final day of Nowruz, Sizdah Bedar, people head outdoors for a picnic in the countryside. One of the popular traditions of Sizdah Bedar is unmarried girls knot blades of grass in the hope to be married soon and to express their desire for good fortune in life and love.

© 2012, The Editors. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:

Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?

Should spanking be part of your parenting toolkit to have well behaved kids?

9 Things You Should Never Say to Adoptive Parents

Have you made any of these mistakes?

Around the World in One Semester

Welcome to our newest blogger--a world traveling, homeschooling mom--to the InCultureParent family!

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?


InCultureParent is an online magazine for parent's raising little global citizens. Centered on global parenting culture and traditions, we feature articles on parenting around the world and on raising multicultural and multilingual children.

Leave us a comment!

  1. CommentsNowruz Craft: Sprouts in Eggshells | InCultureParent   |  Tuesday, 13 March 2012 at 9:49 pm

    […] comment Editors Note: One of the items found on the Haft Sin table for the Persian New Year is sprouted grains. There are many different types of sprouts you can […]

  2. CommentsNowruz Craft: Sprouts in Eggshells | InCultureParent   |  Monday, 19 March 2012 at 8:37 am

    […] comment Editors Note: One of the items found on the Haft Sin table for the Persian New Year is sprouted grains. There are many different types of sprouts you […]

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

More Global Celebrations