In class we’re going to celebrate Nowruz, which is the Persian New Year and a celebration of spring. This ancient Zoroastrian festival, believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, falls each year on the spring equinox, a day when sunlight is divided evenly between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Nowruz is exciting! Nowruz is colorful! Nowruz is your chance to do some spring cleaning (“khane tekani”), visit friends and relatives and party down. If you’re both lucky and industrious you’ll be able to take part in most or all of the following Nowruz observances (refer to Wikipedia’s Nowruz page and/or Iraj Bashiri’s Persian Nowruz really helpful page for more details):

— Haji Firouz: The Haji Firouz is the herald of the new year, a man wearing a red costume with his skin painted black (black is the Persian color of good luck), who dances through the street with trumpets and tambourines. See images of the Haji Firouz in this YouTube video celebrating Nowruz.

— ChahÄÂÂrshanbe SÅ«rÄ« Celebrate ChahÄÂÂrshanbe SÅ«rÄ« the night before the last Wednesday of the year. Known as “the festival of fire,” Iranians celebrate the victory of light over darkness by making bonfires, jumping over them while singing traditional songs. See a family fire-jumping party at a fire station in the U.K.

As part of ChahÄÂÂrshanbe SÅ«rÄ« you may also enjoy:

— Qashoq zani:
Much like Halloween, children dress up in a costume, often a body-length veil, and show up at their neighbor’s door with an empty metal bowl and metal spoon asking for treats.
— Gereh Gushai:
If you’ve come across a problem over the year and can’t find a solution, tie a knot in your shirt and see if a passerby is willing to untie it. If so, that bodes well for you to be able to solve the problem in the upcoming year.
— Pishvaz-i Nowruz:
 Place some coins, a bit of charcoal, wild rue seeds, some rock salt and water into a jar, while saying, “My pains and misfortunes into the jar!” Then, take the jar up to the roof and toss the contents to the streets, yelling, “My pains and misfortunes onto the street!”

— Shab-i Jom’e:
Your dinner the Thursday before Nowruz should include chicken and pilau/pilaf.

— Haft SÄ«n:
Haft Sin refers to setting a Nowruz tablechloth with specific items according to the first seven letters of the Persian alphabet in order to represent the seven elements: Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Plants, Animals and Humans. You should set up the tablecloth on the floor days before Nowruz, adding lit candles and an open Qur’an, Avesta (the holy book of Zoroastrians), a Bible or Torah, depending on your religion. (Note the similarity with the Jewish ritual of setting the seder plate for Passover, a holiday that also takes place in the spring.) Our friend KShar shows us how to set up Haft SÄ«n.

— Sizdah Bedar
After twelve days of new year celebrations, families “sizdah bedar,” “pass the thirteenth day,” together by having picnics and avoid back luck associated with the number thirteen (the day beyond the well-ordered twleve days ordered by the Zodiac). Enjoy Sizdah Bedar in Portland, Oregon.

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