Daffodils, crocuses, cherry blossoms – and sometimes even sunshine. It may still be chilly, but we no longer need to ask, ‘Can there ever be blossom again?’ New blossom has finally been born, and spring is well under way!
For Persians, the approach of the spring equinox has extra meaning: it’s also the approach of Norouz, the new year. It’s been celebrated globally for thousands of years by peoples both secular and religious, and has a wealth of associated symbols and customs.
The weeks counting down to 20th March are full of excited preparations: spring cleaning the house, buying a new set of clothes and decorating. Putting together the table of Haft Seen, seven edible items whose Persian names begin with S: apples, garlic, vinegar, sumac berries, dried Persian olives, a sweet pudding, and some greenery from sprouted grains. Adorning the table with coins, water (with or without a goldfish in it), flowers and a holy book. Decorating eggs with bright colours – an especially exciting part for children. Finally, the moment arrives: a meal of rice, herbs and fish is shared on the last night of the old year, and the new year is welcomed in at the precise moment of the equinox – no matter the time of day or night!
But the most important part of the celebration is family members returning home, sometimes from far afield, to lay aside any differences, reunite and celebrate the coming of the new year together. The spring symbolism of Norouz is a celebration of rebirth, new life, and brighter days – and these things are important to share. After the dark and cold of a winter that seemed unending, coming together to exchange greetings, gifts and joy is a chance to share in a reassuring message of hope.
At Tiny Owl, we’ve published a large number of books from Iran, and worked with internationally recognised Iranian authors and illustrators. To them and all who celebrate, we wish a Happy Norouz!
- Meeting Marjan Vafaian in Tehran.
- A blog post: There is always hope.
- A blog post: Coming Alive Again!
Buy Alive Again
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