Just a small history of today, March 18th, in Iran…

Today is “chahar shanbe suri” which is the last Wednesday of the Persian year. (Chahārshanbe Suri چهارشنبه ‌سوری) “Chaharshanbe” means Wednesday and “Suri” means red. This is the Festival of Light and the intro to Nowruz – the Persian New Year.

Iran’s religion in ancient times used to be “Zoroastrianism” and the Zoroaster people believed that fire is the main component of cleanliness. It doesn’t mean that they believed fire to be God though they believed that fire would basically kill everything bad. Today families and friends gather together and they make a big fire and they jump through and over it. They also dance around it. While they do that they say, “my yellowness for you and your redness for me.” This saying means that the year is finished and we are going to a new year, the yellow symbolizes our sickness and weakness that we are giving to the fire and the fire’s red symbolizes the strength and happiness it is giving to us.

After midnight, young girls will take a spoon and a cup and they will go in front of different houses and they will tap the spoon on the cup while hiding their faces. People at the houses usually give them candy and nuts. Fireworks have become a tradition and it can be kind of dangerous. There are many injuries from fireworks on this day. To be honest, I think it would help if the government would regulate the use of the fireworks and safe places to do them so people would use more caution. For now they are shooting them off wherever they want, but it’s still so much fun. I wish I was there to do this stuff with my friends.

The Persian New Year comes with the arrival of Spring. It is a special celebration. For more information about it, stay tuned to my blog. There are celebrations all over the USA, even in Oklahoma. Everyone is welcome to celebrate with us.

In case you are curious about Zoroastrianism:
“Zoroaster, also called Zarathustra, was an ancient Persian prophet who founded the first world religion – Zoroastrianism.

According to the ‘Zend Avesta’, the sacred book of Zoroastrianism, he was born in Azerbaijan, in northern Persia, probably in the seventh century BC, although some scholars put the time-frame for Zoroaster much earlier.

Zoroaster began preaching his message of cosmic strife between Ahura Mazda, the God of Light, and Ahriman, the principle of evil. According to the prophet, man had been given the power to choose between good and evil. The end of the world would come when the forces of light would triumph and the saved souls rejoice in its victory.

This dualism was part of an evolution towards monotheism in the Middle East. Zoroaster’s teaching became the guiding light of Persian civilization. After Alexander the Great conquered Persia Zoroastrianism began to die out in Persia, but it survived in India where it became the basis of the Parsi religion.” http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/people_n2/persons1_n2/zoroaster.html

Some Nowruz resources for teachers and those interested: 
From The Outreach Center @ the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/files/NowruzCurriculumText.pdf

From Fig & Quince, an Illustrated Guide
http://figandquince.com/2014/02/21/norooz-persian-new-year-spring-iranian/

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for this blog. I’m going to see if there is somewhere around Austin or San Antonio where I can see the festival for myself next year (if that wouldn’t be disrespectful).
    I knew a little about Zoroastrianism from reading Creation by Gore Vidal. It was lovely to learn more about it.
    You are a very good writer and I hope you consider making writing a future occupation in addition to blogging. I hope to read more in the future.

  2. Nicely done. We need to hear more about the Iranian people and the Persian culture. This is how we rid ourselves of fear of people caused by ignorance and misconceptions.

    • Wow thank you very much. This is very important to me, too. I appreciate your view. Thank you for the inspiration and the understanding.

  3. Thanks so much for such a clear explanation of this festival! I had heard the name before, and understood it had something to do with the New Year, but had no idea about its history of Zoroastrianism. Thanks for helping me learn something today!

  4. This was very informative. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words.

  5. Very nicely written, and quite informative! I learned quite a lot!

  6. I really like that you open by explaining the Farsi name for the Festival of Light. I know very little about Farsi, and I enjoyed having a little bit of the language in my ear as I learned about this festival and its role in Persian culture.
    I live in a place (Los Angeles) where there are many people from Iran. I can’t believe I didn’t know anything about Chahārshanbe Suri before reading this! I feel better connected to the place I live after reading your piece. Thank you for that!

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