Friday, March 17, 2017

Iranian New Year

My wife Mrs. Dr. V. is German, my brother-in-law is Iranian, and my sister-in-law works as a Chinese Interpreter for the German government, so my family enjoys American, German, Iranian, and Chinese customs, traditions, and celebrations. That's four times as much celebrating!  Here are my sister Lauren, brother-in-law Reza, wife, myself, and our daughter, Kristine.

There is a tight-knit community of Iranians down here in Summerville, loosely centered around a group that plays soccer on a regular basis.  So, every time we visit SC, there seems to be some Iranian celebration and party to go to.  The Iranian or Persian New Year is called the Nowruz, and falls on March 21st, or the vernal equinox (first day of Spring).  So, we got invited to celebrate the New Year (several invitations, actually :-)

On the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (i.e., Tuesday), the Iranians celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri, the Persian Festival of Fire.  The red of the fire represents good health in the Persian tradition, which calls for each person to jump over the fire to receive this benefit. The yellow of the fire is it taking your sickness, problems, and bad karma, which are replaced from the red of the fire as warmth, energy, and good karma. (There was a lot of discussion at the party over the proper number of times you have to jump over the fire.  Eventually, it was agreed upon that you jump over the fire seven times. :-)  

Wikipedia says that often, "zardi ye man az to, sorkhi ye to az man is also sung, which literally mean 'my yellow is yours, your red is mine'."  We didn't sing, but our friend Jafar did explain the exchange of the yellow and red in this very way.

Reza tells me that in addition to the Fire Ceremony, they usually have fireworks, and back home in Iran, they go door to door, kind of like Trick or Treating.  They don't wear a costume, but usually do cover their heads.  At each door is a metal pot and a spoon, and you beat the pot with the spoon (instead of ringing a doorbell).  Then, the homeowner gives you almonds, pistachios, a pomegranate, or even money (not candy, though).  

Here's the whole mob of us.  In the foreground left is Lida, our gracious hostess, and foreground right is her husband Hoss.  We were amazed at how generously they included us, people they had never met, and offered us their hospitality. Thanks for a wonderful evening!


  1. I had never heard of the Persian festival of fire! Thank you, Dr V!

  2. It was a lot of fun. Pretty much every time we go visit, we're invited to some Iranian celebration or other. They are incredibly welcoming to us, and we always have a great time.