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Celebrating Nowruz
by Bella Y. ’23, President, Upper School Middle Eastern Student Alliance

This Sunday, March 20 is Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Imagine having a holiday where you can jump over a fire, and no one tells you to stop because it’s dangerous! Nowruz is the perfect chance. Known as “Chaharshanbe Suri,” Persian children jump over the fire on the last Wednesday eve of the solar calendar for the first festivity of Nowruz. Nowruz begins when the sun crosses the equator and day and night become equal lengths. This holiday celebrates rebirth and renewal as it welcomes the spring.

In Iran, people observe this holiday by cleaning out their homes, setting up a Haft Seen, and celebrating with their children and families, giving the younger people new money. Many families in both Iran and around the world arrange a Haft Seen which is the arrangement of seven symbolic items which all start with “seen” in Farsi. What are these items?

  • Somagh – a spice which symbolizes the color of the sun rise
  • Serkeh – vinegar which symbolizes age and patience
  • Sombol – spring flower
  • Sabzeh – sprouts which symbolize rebirth
  • Sib – apple which symbolizes health and beauty
  • Sir – garlic which symbolizes medicine

People also put sekkeh (coins) on their Haft Seen to welcome prosperity and wealth to the New Year. Many families get a goldfish as well to demonstrate life! Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of Nowruz because we give our new goldfish a traditional Persian name and get to see our cousins’ goldfish too!

Every year, I go to my grandmother’s house, and we eat a great Persian feast, listen to traditional Persian music, and even get money from our grandparents.

At Brentwood School, for the first time in two years, we celebrated our annual Nowruz lunch with music, traditional Persian food, and a GREAT Persian dessert (because sadly, we cannot distribute money to our students!) An assembly discussing the Haft Seen and other traditions also happened this week.

We hope you will celebrate Nowruz with your families this year and ask your kids about how they enjoyed the assembly and lunch. Best wishes and Happy Nowruz!


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