My favorite time of year has arrived! The first day of Spring marks the Persian New year, celebrated for over 3,000 years. It translates to “new day” and represents a fresh new beginning. Scientifically called the vernal equinox, it occurs the exact moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and spring begins in the Northern hemisphere. The duration of the day and night are equal, on so begins a new cycle of life.
As a child growing up in Iran and for the last 27 years in my Iranian-American diaspora community, Nowruz not only evokes fresh beginnings, but it also connects me to my family’s traditions and an ancient heritage left in the distant places where my ancestors once used to live out their hopes and aspirations.
The notion of hope and a fresh chapter in the story is life, is universal. Nowruz is celebrated by an estimated 190-250 million people around the world and has been kept alive through a series of beautiful and meaningful symbolic traditions. Growing up the scents of memories of Nowruz were distinct: smelling the hyacinth (sombol) wafting through the house, shopping at the market for greens and goldfish, spring cleaning, leaping over bonfires, buying new clothes, reading the poetry of the eternal Hafez of Shiraz and sharing festive meals with loved ones. These traditions are what make this holiday so special. We set a haftseen, a table filled with symbolic items to represent some of these traditions. We visit loved ones, exchange gifts and eat lots and lots of beautiful foods and sweets. There is symbolism in the food as well. For example Persians traditionally eat “Sabzi Polo Mahi”- Basmati rice with fresh dill accompanied by fish. The fresh herbs represent rebirth and fish represents life. Some of the symbolism of the haftseen is mentined below. These are just to name a few. In the coming days I’ll be posting the various recipes of the delicious food we enjoy over this festive holiday.
For the moment here is the Basil and Roses menu and a sneak peek of the dishes we enjoy over this 13 day holiday.
Wishing you all a beautiful New Day and all the best new beginnings your hearts desire! Nowruz Mobarak!
نوروزتان پیروز ، هر روزتان نوروز !
Sabzeh/Sprouts- grass grown from wheat or lentils, representing rebirth
Seeb/Apple– representing health and beauty
Samanu– A sweet creamy pudding, representing humility
Senjed– sweet and dry fruit of the lotus tree, representing love
Serkeh/Vinager- representing age and patience
Seer/Garlic– representing medicine and good health
Somaq/Sumac– A spice representing sunrise and light overcoming darkness
Leila Forouhar- Nowrooz