The ancient and most important feast of Iranians , the New Persian Year, have different spelling in English, i.e. Nowruz, Norouz, Norooz, or Noruz. And it’s not acceptable and good. This live and ancient tradition in Iran , should have a unique spelling in English. The ancient Seven “S”s, have different spelling, too, like “Haft Sinn”, “Haft Siin”, etc. and even some groups spell it, “Haft Sin” or “Haft Seen”, that is not good, because these words are meaningful in English. Iranians should solve this stupid problem and choose a unique and proper spelling in English.
Nowruz table, or as Iranians call it “Sofre Haft Sinn” is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz. Haft-Sinn, that also spells, “Haft-Siin”, means “the seven ‘S’s” or “seven items beginning with the letter sinn (S)” .Siin or Sinn is the name of “S” character in Persian Alphabet. Today the Haft-Sinn table includes seven items starting with the letter ‘S’ or Siin in the Persian alphabet. In fact, the seven elements of Life, namely Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, and Human, are represented by Haft-Sinn. They also have Astrological correlations to five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Sun and Moon.
The Haft Sin has evolved over time, but has kept its symbolism. Traditionally, families attempt to set as beautiful a Haft Sinn table as they can. The Haft Siin items generally are:
- Sabzeh wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish (symbolizing rebirth)
- Samanu a sweet pudding made from wheat germ (symbolizing affluence)
- Senjed the dried fruit of the oleaster tree (symbolizing love)
- Siir , garlic (symbolizing medicine)
- Siib , apples (symbolizing beauty/health)
- Somaq , sumac (as aphrodisiac symbolizing fertility)
- Serkeh , vinegar (symbolizing age/patience)
- Sonbol , Hyacinth (plant)
- Sekkeh Coins, (symbolizing wealth)
- Aajil & Fruits [see below].
- A Mirror (symbolizing cleanness/honesty)
- Decorated Eggs that has long history in Iran (symbolizing people/mortal seed’)
- Candle ( symbolizing fire/sun)
- a Holy Book and a Poetry Book (the Divan of Hafiz)
- A Bowl of water with Goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving). Apparently this goldfish is “very ancient and meaningful” and with Zoroastrian connection. In the recent year, we and many others use of artificial goldfish, not the live one, because of animal rights.
( Note: selecting the seven of “S” items are optional, not mandatory, and often select form the above items that begin with “S”. The other non-”S” items, are found on all Haft Siin tables)
Typically, on the first day of Nowruz ( Sal Tahvil ), family members gather around the table, with the Haft Sinn on the table or set next to it, and await the exact moment of the arrival of the spring. At that time gifts are exchanged. At Sal Tahvil , that means the hour during which the old year ends and the new year begins, the family members all dressed in their best, sit around the Haft Siin table. The Haft Siin table is kept in the whole two weeks of Nowruz holidays, and it is different form dinner table. Aajil or Ajil , is an assortment of nuts (pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts), roasted chickpeas and seeds such as watermelon, pumpkin, and raisins and other dried fruits such as apricots, sour cherries, mulberries, and figs. The roasted nuts and seeds may simply be salted. Ajil is probably the most common snack enjoyed and offered in Persian homes. It is served alone alongside fresh fruit, sweets, tea, sherbet, and sometimes liquor on a wide variety of occasions: parties, casual meetings, picnics, new year ceremonies, Haft Sinn, etc. Some like to carry Ajil along to eat as they go for a stroll, wait in lines, or attend the movies. The afternoon snack (Tanaqqolat) of Naser-al-din Shah Qajar included Ajil of thirteen different items, each in a separate bowl! these he ate along with nine different kinds of pickles before being served fresh fruits, vegetables, ice cream, tea, etc., as Asrane ! The main food in the Sal Tahvil’s day/night is Sabzi-Polo, that is a dish of rice, chopped herbs, and fish. In Persian, Sabz means Green, and Sabzi can refer to herbs or vegetables. Polo is a style of cooked rice, known in English as pilaf. Iranians traditionally eat Sabzi Polo with “white fish” for lunch on Nowruz, with their family and relatives.
Happy New Year, Happy ancient Nowruz
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