As you may know, I was born in Iran and moved to France way before the revolution, in 1967. I was six years old then, so my memory of Iran is not very clear. However one secular custom stayed with me and that it Nowruz, also known as Persian New Year, a major holiday in Iran marking the first day of spring and the beginning of a new year in the Persian calendar. It is a lovely holiday that unites every Persians from all walks of life. The holiday typically falls on or around March 21st and is celebrated with various customs and traditions that symbolize renewal, rebirth, and the triumph of light over darkness. I wasn't raised celebrating it in France but I love seeing the dedication of my Persian friends in New York who take time setting a special table called the Haft-Seen. Haft means "seven" in Persian, and Seen is the Persian letter "S". The Haft-Seen table typically includes seven symbolic items, each of which starts with the Persian letter "S". These items may include sprouts (sabzeh) representing rebirth, garlic (seer) representing health, apple (sib) representing beauty and fertility, sumac (somaq) representing the sunrise and new beginnings, and other items such as coins (sekkeh) symbolizing wealth and a mirror (ayneh) symbolizing self-reflection. Family and friends gather in each other's home and participate in outdoor activities like picnics and the flying of kites.
During the recent demonstrations, some Iranians have used the occasion of Nowruz to express their grievances and demands for change. Some have used the Haft-Seen table to display political slogans or messages of protest, highlighting the challenges and frustrations faced by many Iranians, including economic hardship, political repression, and social inequality.
May this Nowruz be a reminder of the resilience and creativity of the Iranian people and may it be a time for Persian families and communities to come together, reflect on the past year, and look forward to the new one with hope and optimism.
If you have any Persian friends, make them feel special by wishing them "Eid-e Shoma Mobarak" which means Happy New Year to you! They will be grateful for it.