Nowruz, the Iranian New Year is equal to the first of day of spring. It is one of the most ancient Iranian celebrations. Nowruz is a compound word that consists of an adjective “now” meaning new and a noun “ruz” meaning day. This combination creates the word “new day”. Some interesting rituals are performed before or during Nowruz such as family gatherings and spring cleaning in which Iranians clean their houses with water and vacuum cleaners and remove dust from their houses. Spreading out Haft-sin tablecloth is one of the indispensable customs which includes Samanu, garlic, Russian olive, Sumac, apples, plants, vinegar, mirror, goldfish, designed eggs and Quran. Sizdah Bedar, also known as Nature’s Day is the final custom of the holiday on which the people go to the gardens and parks and make different kinds of Kebabs. In case you are planning to travel to Iran and you are also interested in ancient customs, Nowruz and a few days before the holiday can be the perfect time because there are many traditional customs prevalent in different regions of Iran. Below is a list of some cities along with their old customs concerning Nowruz.
Travelling to Iran frequently begins in Tehran. The presence of Hajji Firuz in the streets during Esfand (the last month of the Iranian year) is one of the customs of Tehran before Nowruz. He is known for his black face and red clothes. Hajji Firuz is one of the symbols of Iranian New Year arrival who announces the arrival of spring by singing and playing the tambourine and Tombak (a goblet drum). His black face is a symbol of the cold winter blackness and his red lips and clothes are a symbol of spring which sits on the body of this cold weather.
Shiraz is a city of pleasant gardens and orange blossoms. In case you are planning to travel to Shiraz during Nowruz holiday, you will be fuddled by the pleasant-smelling of orange blossoms. One of the old customs in Shiraz is that a wedding ceremony is held for an orange tree with a small amount of oranges. That is, the landlady invites the female neighbors to come to her house and then picks up a saw to cut the branches off the tree. In the meantime, one of the women comes forward to become the guarantor of the tree. Afterwards, they pull a very thin net on the tree and rejoice; and they believe that the tree will have many oranges in spring of the following year. In addition to Haft-sin tablecloth, some people also spread out Haft Meem tablecloth which includes chicken, fish, shrimp, yogurt, Masghati (starch fudge), sweet lemon and corinth raisins.
If you are thinking of travelling to Esfahan, spring will definitely be the first and last choice. Like all Iranians, the people from Esfahan celebrate Iranian New year with spring cleaning and shopping for new clothes. In addition to the houses, Haft-sin tablecloths are spread out in shops and commercial centers. Buying hoary stocks, hyacinths and goldfish is one of their old customs which is not restricted to this city. Another custom in Isfahan is the happy tradition of spoon drumming in which children and adolescents used to go to the neighbors’ houses and drum their spoons on a metal container. Consequently, they were given sweets and chocolates. However, it is less common now.
In case you travel to Mashhad before Nowruz, you will see a large number of people on the streets who are shopping for new clothes for themselves and their children. At home, women shake the carpets, dust the furniture and soak wheat or lentils on the plate to make them green for the New Year.
Yazd is one of the cities of Iran that you will never get tired of traveling to it and visiting its attractions. One of the customs that people have in Yazd is putting a dish of wheat or flour on Haft-sin tablecloth to increase blessings. People consider the pussy willow as a sign of Farvardin (the first Iranian month) and use it in their Haft-sin tablecloth. Lighting a fire on their house roofs on the last night of the year is another thing they do to welcome spring. This is a symbolic act to disappear the winter chill.
The people of Qazvin welcome their guests inside the colored crystal dishes on cretonne tablecloths. Homemade sweets, soaked black cherries, figs, Noghl, peas, raisins and some kind of berries which are made with pistachio and almond powder are served. They give their guests some eggs dyed with onion skins as gifts on Nowruz.
It should be mentioned that Nowruz is celebrated not only in Iran but also in other countries such as Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The population of each country has its own customs. Spring cleaning and family gatherings are the common customs among most of them. Travelling to one of these countries before or during Nowruz can be an excellent experience for you.