Nowruz is the Iranian or Persian New Year celebrated by various ethnicities worldwide. It is a festival based on the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar, on the spring equinox—on or around 21 March on the Gregorian calendar.

Nowruz marks the first day of the first month (Farvardin) in the Iranian calendar and is celebrated with various ceremonies and rituals. People typically clean their houses, purchase new clothing, and visit family and friends to exchange gifts and enjoy large feasts. Other traditions include visiting the graves of loved ones and jumping over bonfires. On the night of the festival, many people also participate in a Haft-Seen display, which includes seven items that start with the letter S in the Persian alphabet. These items include sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts), samanu (a sweet pudding), and senjed (dried oleaster fruit).

Haftsin is an arrangement of seven symbolic items whose names start with the letter “س” (pronounced as “seen”), the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet; “haft” (هفت) is Persian for “seven”. It is traditionally displayed at Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

Photo By: Niloofar Farkhojasteh

Photo By: Niloofar Farkhojasteh

The following are the primary items of Haft-seen, whose Persian names begin with the letter S in the Persian alphabet.

  • Sabzeh (سبزه) – wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish.
  • Samanu (سمنو) – wheat germ sweet pudding.
  • Senjed (سنجد) – oleaster.
  • Serkeh (سرکه) – vinegar.
  • Seeb (سیب) – apple.
  • Seer (سیر) – garlic.
  • Somagh (سماق) – sumac.

Coins (سکه sekke), hyacinth (سنبل sombol), and clock (ساعت suat also pronounced so-at) are sometimes included too. Other symbolic items that are typically used to accompany Haft-sin include a mirror, candles, painted eggs, goldfish, and traditional Persian confections. A “book of wisdom” is also commonly included, which might be , Avesta, the Shahnameh, or the Divān of Hafez.

Items that start with Persian letter “س”:

  • Sabzeh (سبزه): Sprouting /Grass: the symbol of rebirth and growth.
  • Samanu (سمنو): the symbol of power and strength.
  • Senjed (سنجد): the symbol of love.
  • Somāq (سماق): Sumac: the symbol of sunrise.
  • Serkeh (سرکه): Vinegar: the symbol of patience.
  • Seeb (سیب): Apple: the symbol of beauty.
  • Seer (سیر): Garlic: the symbol of health and medicine.
Photo By: Pouya Jabbarisani

Photo By: Pouya Jabbarisani

Other items that start with Persian letter “س” that are sometimes included:

  • Sonbol (سنبل): Hyacinth: the symbol of spring’s arrival.
  • Sekkeh (سکه): Coin: the symbol of matter, material world, wealth and prosperity.
  • Saat (ساعت): Clock: the symbol of time.

Items that don’t start with “س” but, nonetheless, are invariably included:

  • Tokhm-e Morg Rangi (تخم‌مرغ رنگی): Eggs: the symbol of fertility.
  • Ayina (آینه): Mirror: the symbol of self-reflection.
  • Shem’a (شمع): Candle: the symbol of enlightenment.
  • Maahi-ye Qırmız (ماهی قرمز): Goldfish: the symbol of progress.
  • Ketaab (کتاب): Book: the symbol of wisdom.

The day of Nowruz has its origins in the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism and is thus rooted in the traditions of the Iranian peoples; however, it has been celebrated by diverse communities for over 3,000 years in Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia.

Nowruz is an important event in the Iranian calendar and is celebrated with enthusiasm by millions of people around the world, regardless of their faith. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to come together as a community to celebrate the start of a new year. It is also a time for family gatherings, where people exchange gifts and enjoy traditional food and music. Nowruz is a time to celebrate life, hope and joy, and to share the gifts of friendship and goodwill.

Photo By: Zahra Tavakoli Fard

Photo By: Zahra Tavakoli Fard

Nowruz is a celebration that marks the first day of Spring and the beginning of the Persian New Year. It is celebrated in many countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also celebrated by many people of Iranian descent living in places such as India, Pakistan, and the United States.