Nowruz: Traditions for Persian New Year

Facts about Nowruz
  • Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the equinox.
  • It's celebrated by over 300 million people worldwide.
  • The festival's origins date back over 3,000 years.
  • Nowruz means "new day" in Persian.
  • Haft-Seen table displays seven symbolic items starting with 'S'.
  • Chaharshanbe Suri involves jumping over bonfires for purification.
  • Sizdah Bedar is an outdoor celebration on the 13th day.
  • Families visit elders first, honoring respect and tradition.
  • Traditional dishes, like Sabzi Polo ba Mahi, are prepared.
  • New clothes are worn to signify rebirth and renewal.

Each culture around the world has its unique way of celebrating the arrival of the new year. From the bustling streets of New York during the Times Square ball drop to the roaring dragon parades in China, every nation paints a vibrant tapestry of tradition.


Among the most ancient and rich of these is Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Predominantly observed in Iran and parts of Central Asia, Nowruz is a celebration of rebirth and renewal, coinciding with the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring. Let’s explore the mesmerizing traditions associated with this festival.


1. Haft-Seen Table

At the heart of Nowruz celebrations lies the Haft-Seen table. Families arrange a special table with seven specific items that begin with the Persian letter ‘Seen’ or ‘S’. Each of these seven items symbolizes a different hope for the new year:

  • Sabzeh: Green sprouts (usually wheat or barley) symbolizing rebirth.
  • Samanu: A sweet pudding representing power and strength.
  • Senjed: Dried oleaster fruit, symbolizing love.
  • Seer: Garlic cloves for medicine and health.
  • Seeb: Apples, symbolizing beauty and good health.
  • Somāq: Sumac berries, representing the sunrise and patience.
  • Serkeh: Vinegar for age and patience.

In addition to these, other items like painted eggs, a mirror, candles, a holy book, and goldfish might adorn the table, each holding its own significance.

2. Khane Tekani (House Cleaning)


Before the arrival of Nowruz, families engage in spring cleaning, or ‘Khane Tekani’. This represents a purification and renewal, as families prepare to welcome the new year.

3. Chaharshanbe Suri


On the last Wednesday before Nowruz, a festive occasion known as Chaharshanbe Suri is celebrated. People light bonfires and jump over the flames while singing traditional songs. The act is symbolic – with the fire representing negativity, and jumping over it is meant to cleanse oneself of the past year’s problems and anxieties.

4. Sizdah Bedar (Nature Day)


On the 13th day after Nowruz, families head outdoors and spend the day in nature. This day, known as ‘Sizdah Bedar’, is all about appreciating nature’s beauty. Traditionally, the sabzeh grown for the Haft-Seen table is returned to nature on this day, typically by being thrown into running water.

5. Visiting Relatives

Nowruz is a time for family. Starting with the elderly, people pay visits to their relatives, strengthening familial bonds. It’s also common to exchange gifts, especially for children, who might receive new clothes or money.

6. Special Foods

No celebration is complete without a feast! For Nowruz, families prepare special dishes. Among the most famous is ‘Sabzi Polo ba Mahi’, a dish made of rice with green herbs served with fish. ‘Reshte Polo’, a noodle rice dish, and ‘Kuku Sabzi’, a herb and egg frittata, are also popular.

7. New Clothes

Wearing new clothes is a significant Nowruz tradition. It is believed that by donning new attire, one can also leave behind negative experiences from the past year and start afresh.

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Armen Ohanian

I am a traveler and experienced travel planner. I have been working in the field of travel for over ten years, and have gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the industry. I specialize in trip consulting and work to help individuals and travel agents plan their perfect vacations to explore the other side of the world. Here I am sharing you stories and experiences.

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