Sizdah Be Dar سینزده به در

First I would like to apologize to my kind readers. I’m sorry I have not had time to write a lot lately. I was busy the last couple of days with my school stuff and also I am stressed out about the tests that are coming up.

sinzdah be dar

Sizdah (13) Be Dar is one of our New Year traditions that we do. This day is the 13th day of the 1st month of the spring.  Sizdah means thirteen.  Bedar means to get rid of. I believe that this tradition also came from the Zoroastrian people. Long ago people believed that the number 13 is an unlucky number that will bring them danger.

On this day people usually go to picnic or somewhere that is near a water route such as a river. They stay out for a couple of hours with their family and friends. They also cook their lunch outside or before they go outside of their house. They eat a lot of things and they also will dance if they are in a private place. People in Iran are not allowed to dance in public, especially girls.

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Iranian people enjoy this day very much. Last time I wrote on my blog what Sabzeh is. Sabzeh is wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts  growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haft-Seen) One of the coolest things that we do on this day is we send the single girls to make a braid out of Sabzeh. The myth that this will help them to find a husband but it’s not true.

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I have to say that this is not only for single girls. In fact it’s for any person that is wishing for something. It doesn’t matter if you are a female or male, you still are wishing for something. After braiding the Sabzeh or the grass you place the plant on the moving water. The water will carry the plant away.

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I believe last time I wrote about the gold fish on the table, too. Well, on this day, if the gold fish are still alive, we release them in the water also. The schools will open again after the 15th which is 2 days after this day.

During these 13 days everybody in the family has to go to other houses. Young people in the family will go to the elder people’s house first which is a show of respect they have. Older people in the family will usually give money to the kids as a gift.

 

Persian Eid عید

You are probably wondering what is going on around you among Persian people lately or what President Barak Obama’s latest speech was about. By reading this you will find out more about today and the history behind it. Today is Iran’s New Year which is called “Nouroz.” This tradition also comes from Zoroastrians. We celebrate this day because we think that nature is coming alive again. If you pay attention around you during this time of year, you will see that the grasses are getting green again. You can see the trees growing blooms and that’s what I mean by nature coming back to life.

Did you know that Persian New Year starts at a different time each year? This is because the time is determined by when the earth turns around the sun one time. When it gets back on the same spot then it is the time that New Year happens. Last year it was in the early morning but this year it was around 11:00AM. So you can see the difference between the 2 years.

Every year, each family will set up a table which we call “Haft Sin” ( سین هفت). This word means 7 things with names that start with the sound of “s”. These 7 things are the symbols of life in Persian culture. This table includes: A special herb-like green grass (سبزه,sabze), Sea-buckthorn/Senjed, a special kind of berry (سنجد,senjed), Samanoo, a meal made out of wheat (سمنو,samano), Vinegar (سرکه,serke), Garlic (سیر,sier),  and Apple(سیب,seib). We usually put other things too like goldfish, colored eggs, money, candy, etc. Sometimes people have less than 7 things and sometimes more but these 6 main things are usually on the tables.

haft sin

More information about these traditional components of Haft Sin:

1. Sabzeh – (Persian: سبزه‎) – wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
2. Samanu – (Persian: سمنو‎) – sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
3. Senjed – (Persian: سنجد‎) – dried oleaster Wild Olive fruit – symbolizing love
4. Sir – (Persian: سیر‎) – garlic – symbolizing medicine
5. Sib – (Persian: سیب‎ )- apples – symbolizing beauty and health
6. Somāq – (Persian: سماق‎) – sumac fruit – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
7. Serkeh – (Persian: سرکه‎) – vinegar – symbolizing old age and patience

One of our other traditions is to eat “Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi” on the New Year night. Kind of like how we eat turkey on Thanksgiving night in the United States, this food is different kinds of rice with fish.

“Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi”

“Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi”

In case you want to listen to the President’s speech about today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfBIWh9soj8 

I would like to say Happy Persian New Year to everyone who is reading this. Even if you are not Iranian it doesn’t matter, you are still in our hearts.  I appreciate all of you who comment on this blog. Your comments mean a lot to me and it encourages me. Please visit this website for the next Iranian tradition that is coming up called “sinzdah be dar.”

Here are some more pictures of Nouroz and Haft Sin:

For more information about Zoroastrianism, you can see my previous post here:
https://estacyoklahoma.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/chahar-shanbeh/
You can also find even more information here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/zoroastrian/

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/