The non-Iranian's guide to Nowruz

Dec 19 2017, 3:14 pm

Tis’ the season for wheatgrass and goldfish! You’re probably wondering, why? Approaching on March 21 at 4:01 a.m., Nowruz – or Iranian New Year – will be marking the vernal equinox and commencing the year 1392.

Nowruz (pronounced no-rooz) is a 3000-year-old tradition, which is spread across many days and events. Behind the culture of this event comes a lot of history. For starters, Now-ruz means new-day, as it represents a fresh and new beginning. Around Vancouver, you will be seeing many events taking place with Iranians showing their national pride. To see a list of local events, click here.

Wishing people a happy Nowruz

Okay, so Farsi may not be the easiest language to pick up. . .There are many ways and expressions for wishing Iranians the best for Nowruz. Your safest bet would just be to say “Happy Nowruz,” but if you’re willing to put in some effort, go for “Nowruz Mobarak.”

What to bring as gifts

Typically when it is Nowruz, it is custom to visit each other’s houses to ring in the new year. Friends and family members visit each other’s houses and bring gifts such as flowers, sweets or pastries.

The symbolic Haft-Seen table

Haft-Seen literally means ‘seven S’. During Nowruz, Iranians set up a special table filled with emblematic items, including the most important seven items beginning with the letter ‘seen’ (S). Other complimentary settings such as goldfish, holy books, colored eggs and mirrors are often placed as well.

The seven S items

Sabzeh (wheatgrass): representing rebirth and fertility

Senjed (jujube fruits): representing love and passion

Seer (garlic): for good health and to ward off bad omens

Serkeh (vinegar): representing old age and patience

Somagh (sumac): representing the color of dawn with its dark lavender color

Samanoo (wheat pudding): representing strength and preparedness for a new year

Seeb (apple): representing natural beauty and health


The Nowruz holiday time is to the East as the Christmas season is to the West. It’s a very exciting and joyous set of days. The most memorable moments are setting up the Haft-Seen table with your family, visiting relatives and celebrating. The kids always enjoy as they usually receive money as gifts as well as being entertained by the iconic Haji Firuz, the bearer of spring which prances around singing and dancing with his tambourine.

You don’t have to be Iranian to enjoy this holiday in Vancouver! Take your family to one of the many events going on around town, and explore the fascinating traditions and unique customs of Nowruz.

Embrace the culture, and have a lovely Nowruz!


Connect with Samaa on Twitter @SamaaJamz

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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