Photo: UNIS Vienna/Lilia Jiménez-Ertl


Nowrooz is the most important holiday in Persian culture, and it marks the beginning of the new year. This ancient holiday has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in Persian history and tradition. Nowrooz is celebrated on the spring equinox, which falls on March 20th or 21st, depending on the year. In 2023, Nowrooz falls on March 20th, and Persians around the world are preparing to welcome the new year with open arms.

Nowrooz is a time of renewal, rejuvenation, and reflection. It is a time to put the past behind and focus on the future. The days leading up to Nowrooz are filled with cleaning and decluttering the home, as it is believed that a clean home will bring good luck in the new year. People also purchase new clothes to wear on Nowrooz, as this is a symbol of starting fresh and beginning anew.

On the day of Nowrooz, Persians gather with their families and loved ones to celebrate. The centerpiece of the Nowrooz celebration is the Haft Sin, which is a table set with seven symbolic items that begin with the Persian letter "sin." These items represent health, wealth, love, beauty, wisdom, fertility, and patience. Each family adds their own personal touches to the Haft Sin, and it is a source of pride and joy for all.

Haft Sin is a traditional table setting that is a centerpiece of the Persian New Year (Nowrooz) celebration. The table is typically set with seven items that start with the Persian letter "sin" (س). The items may vary depending on the region and the family's traditions, but the most common items on the Haft Sin include:

Sabzeh (سبزه) - wheat, lentil, or barley sprouts growing in a dish, which represents rebirth and renewal.
Samanu (سمنو) - a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, which symbolizes affluence and fertility.
Senjed (سنجد) - the dried fruit of the lotus tree, which represents love.
Sir (سیر) - garlic, which symbolizes good health.
Sib (سیب) - apples, which represent beauty and health.
Somāq (سماق) - sumac berries, which represent the color of sunrise and the victory of good over evil.
Serkeh (سرکه) - vinegar, which symbolizes age and patience.
Other items that may be added to the Haft Sin include coins (for wealth), a mirror (for reflection and self-awareness), a book of poetry (for knowledge and wisdom), and painted eggs (for fertility and new life).

In recent times, some people have added additional items to the Haft Sin that start with the Persian letter "sin," such as a goldfish (سیماها) for life or a clock (ساعت) for time. However, the seven traditional items remain the core of the Haft Sin.

Another important tradition on Nowrooz is the Chaharshanbe Suri, which is a fire-jumping ceremony that takes place on the last Tuesday night of the Persian year. People jump over bonfires to symbolize purification and the burning away of negativity from the past year. It is a joyous celebration, and people sing and dance around the fires as they jump over them.

Nowrooz is a time for feasting and indulging in delicious Persian cuisine. Sabzi Polo Mahi, which is rice cooked with herbs and served with fish, is a popular dish during Nowrooz. Other traditional dishes include Kookoo Sabzi, which is an herb omelet, and Ashe Reshte, which is a soup made with beans and noodles.

Nowrooz is not only celebrated in Iran but also in other countries with a Persian diaspora, such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It is a time for all Persians to come together and celebrate their shared history and culture.

The exact moment of the vernal equinox in Helsinki, Finland in 2023 will be on March 20th at 11:24 PM local time in the Eastern European Time Zone, which is UTC+2.

Nowrooz is a cherished holiday in Persian culture, and it is a time for renewal, reflection, and celebration. As Persians around the world prepare to celebrate Nowrooz in 2023, let us all come together to wish each other a happy and prosperous new year. Happy Nowrooz!


WorldCon 75, Scott Lynch; photo by Jana Blomqvist


WorldCon 75, Robin Hobb; photo by Jana Blomqvist


Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016