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DEIB Better Together: Nowruz

March 20th starts the celebration of the Iranian New Year, Nowruz or Persian New Year. Nowruz or “new day” in English, is a secular celebration that stretches back over 3,000 years. Born from the concept of regrowth and healing, the 13 day celebration begins the exact moment as the Spring Equinox when the day will be as long as the night and the start of spring arrives. This widely symbolizes rebirth and the affirmation of life in harmony with nature. 

The first celebration is Chaharshanbe Suri or “Scarlet Wednesday” which is held on the last Tuesday night before Nowruz. During this festival of fire celebration, bonfires are lit and people leap over the burning flames to symbolize the burning away of any sickness or bad luck while saying “Zardi-e man az to, sorkhi-e to az man” meaning, “May my paleness be yours and your red glow be mine”. It is hoped that this ritual will bring enlightenment and happiness in the coming year. 

On the day of Nowruz, family and friends visit one another to celebrate by wearing new clothes, sharing sweets and lavish meals, and gathering by the sofreh Haft Sin. The Haft Sin tablescape is an arrangement of seven or more symbolic items whose names start with the letter "س" or the letter “S” in the Persian language, pronounced as “seen”. Each item symbolizes things that we wish for ourselves and loved ones in the new year. The seven symbols are:

  • Senjed: Silverberry, symbol of love 

  • Seeb: Apple, symbol of beauty 

  • Sabzeh: Sprouts, symbol of grown and rebirth 

  • Seer: Garlic, symbol of good health 

  • Samanoo: Sweet wheat pudding, symbol of affluence 

  • Serkeh: Vinegar, symbol of patience and old age 

  • Somagh: Sumac (red spice), symbol of sunrise 

There are also items that do not start with the letter "س" or the letter “S”, but are included as well. These items are: 

  • Coin: Wealth 

  • Hyacinth: Nice Fragrances 

  • Mirror: Clarity and Reflection 

  • Candles: Warmth and Happiness 

  • Painted Eggs: Fertility 

  • Goldfish: New life 

  • Book: Knowledge 

  • Traditional Iranian Pastries: Sweetness 

The final day of Persian New Year concludes on the 13th day, by celebrating Sizdebedar, literally translated to “Thirteen Outdoor”, also known as “Nature’s Day”. On this day, people spend the day outdoors. Family and friends pack the leftover nuts and pastry from Nowruz days and go to parks or the countryside, to spend pleasant moments with friends and family playing different games, hoping that a happy time together will cleanse their minds. Younger members of the family tie the Sabzeh from the sofreh Haft Sin and the Sabzeh is then thrown into running water such as a river or stream. 

At Playgroup, the children will start the celebration by jumping over a faux “fire” as they enter into school to bring good luck to each of them. This way they can experience the first celebration of Nowruz,  Chaharshanbe Suri, in a real way.  Once they enter into the school they will see the cultural corner transformed into a beautiful Haft Sin, including the seven symbols and the additional symbols (listed above) to see the table-scape in person. There are descriptive graphics to help the children understand what each item symbolizes, as well as laminated cards for the teachers to use in their classrooms for further conversation. There will also be a cultural craft, Haft Sin Table Goldfish as well as beautifully curated books which will be on display across from the cultural corner for the teachers to access. It will be a great 13 days for the children to learn and celebrate Nowruz/Persian New Year!

Thank you to the Playgroup Families who contributed in bringing Nowruz to life in our school!