It’s finally here — the first day of spring. For most of you, this means switching from boots to sandals and cleaning out the garage. For Iranians and Iranian-Americans (including Lili and me!), it’s also Persian New Year or Nowruz, which literally translates to “New Day” (or new beginning).
Many Iranians celebrate by cleaning their homes, buying new clothes, baking pastries and putting together a ritualistic table setting called Haft Sin (pronounced ‘seen’) or the Table of Seven S’s. Each household prepares their table differently, but they all represent seven items that begin with the letter “S” in the Farsi language.
Each item has a significant cultural or symbolic meaning. The most common items include:
- sabzeh (sprouts like wheat or lentil) – symbolizes fertility and rebirth of nature
- somaq (spice made from the somaq berry) – symbolizes the color of the sunrise, conquering evil
- samanoo (a sweet, creamy pudding) – symbolizes the reward of patience
- seeb (apple) – symbolizes natural beauty
- seer (garlic) – symbolizes health
- serkeh (vinegar) – symbolizes age
- senjed (sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree) – symbolizes love
Other items you may find on a Haft Sin include:
- sekkehs (coins) - symbolizes prosperity and wealth
- spring flowers - symbolizes the scent of heaven
- a lighted candle for each family member
- a mirror - symbolizes the reflection of life
- painted eggs - symbolizes fertility
- a poetry or religious book, such as Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, Divan of Hafiz, Quran or Avesta
- a goldfish in a bowl - symbolizes life
Along with the Haft Sin, elderly relatives hand out brand new bills and coins to the younger family members — as the youngest in my family, you can imagine how much I love this tradition!
Wishing everybody a happy spring and a prosperous new beginning!