Eid No – Rooz

Eid No – Rooz
by Rana M.
April / May 1992

Spring is the time that life starts all over again, it is the time of blossom, the time to breathe and feel the freshness.

In Iran spring means feast and celebration, and Iranians have been celebrating the first day of spring, March 21st, for thousands of years.

They call it Eid No-Rooz. Eid means feast, No means new, and Rooz is day; so it means “the feast of new day”; in fact, Eid No-Rooz is the national new year, and is the biggest celebration in Iran, in which everybody participates regardless of their religion.

Eid No Rooz is also celebrated in Afghanistan; and very recently, after the Soviet Union fell apart, Tajikestan, one of its former republics, announced No-Rooz as the new year and Farsi as their official language (news from Shahrvand newspaper, January 25th 1992, Toronto).

Throughout history, whether in times of power and domination or in times of being under attack, Iranians have kept their culture and traditions, and never forgot one thing: that they were Iranians.

1400 years ago, the Arabs brought Islam to Iran, the majority of Iranians accepted to be Muslim, but some preferred to say with their old religion which is Zartoshtian (Zoroastrians), who believed in “good thought, good word and good act”. Their prophet Zartosht (Zoroaster), was born in 700 B.C. Over the centuries Muslims and Zardoshtians lived in Iran along with people from other religions such as Jews, Christians, and recently Bahaiians.

A few weeks before Spring, all Iranians start preparing for Eid No-Rooz, by cleaning up every single spot of their homes, they call it Khaneh-Tekani, in Farsi ‘khaneh’ means home, and ‘tekani’ is shaking; they clean up their places like they have shaken it up. Of course they do not forget to buy new clothes, especially for the kids!

But the New Year is not just buying new clothes, eating good food and having fun. Philosophically, when they clean up their homes, they also get rid of all the hatred in their hearts, it is a time to try once again, to forget about everything that upset you and aim at a better relationship.

On the night before the last Wednesday of the year they have a feast of fire, they call it Chaharshanbeh Soori, meaning the “festival of Wednesday”; After it gets dark they brighten up bushes in the streets or in their back yards and everybody jumps over it.

The old Iranians loved and respected the fire and always kept it on in their temples, because they believed it was the symbol of brightness and many things could be made by fire.

For the first day of Spring, they set a traditional table which is called Haft Seen, ‘haft’ means seven and ‘seen’ is the letter s. They put seven items that in Farsi start with ‘s’, on the table. These items are: Seer (garlic), Serkeh (vinegar), Sonbol (hyacinth), Sumac, Sabzeh (green-they wet wheat or lentil for a week or two before the new year to germinate), Senjed (fruit of a kind of tree which resembles the mountain-ash), Samanou (a dish with the juice of germinating wheat or malt mixed with flour).

Other things are also put on the table, such as: bread, different kinds of sweets, boiled coloured eggs, candles, coins, apples, gold fish and a holy book.

The traditional food for New Year’s Eve is mixed vegetables with rice and white fish.

During the 12 days of feasting, everybody visits their relatives, friends, neighbours and other acquaintances. The elders are the most important, and so they are visited first, and of course the children receive their New Year gift, which is traditionally brand new crisp money.

On the thirteenth day, the last day of Eid No-Rooz, nobody stays at home, everyone goes for a picnic to the parks or out of town wherever it is green, to have fun and play tricks on each other – somewhat similar to April 1st of North America.

Those who are in love and hope to get married soon, would tie two pieces of grass together, and this is their secret for the year!

Photo Captions:
1- “Haft Seen” Traditional table of ‘Eid No-Rooz’
2- “Haji Fearooz” brings happiness and laughter to the kids, seen here at the Eid No-Rooz celebration of March 7,1992 at King Edward School (709 King Street West in Kitchener) where Iranian Heritage Language is taught on Saturday mornings, and is attended by 42 students from Iran and Afghanistan and 3 non-Farsi speaking adults