(Persia Digest) – You may have already heard that the name Nowruz in Kurdistan was attributed to the day when the Iranian hero Kaveh Ahangar was victorious over Zahhak. This day was named “Nowruz”, meaning New Day, and celebrated as the New Year. Large bonfires were lit on hilltops and people celebrated hand in hand by singing and dancing.
From the day Kaveh defeated Zahhak to this day, the Kurdish people hold a victory celebration on the first day of spring. However, Nowruz dates back to the time of Jamshid accessing the throne, indicating that not only does this celebration go back to Indo-European times, but it was also celebrated before that among these ancient civilizations.
The Kurds begin their feasts about a fortnight before Nowruz actually begins on the spring equinox by doing their spring cleaning, buying new clothes, doing repairs around the house, and soaking the wheat for the sabzeh of the Haft Sin spread.
Thorn bushes are collected by the youngsters for the Chaharshanbeh Suri bonfires, last Wednesday eve of the year, and stored on the rooftops. Firecrackers, squibs, and kites are also part of the celebrations.
The day before Nowruz is also an important one among Kurds. It is the day when the new clothes are delivered by the tailors, the spring cleaning is done, and men and women dress up and get ready for the year to change. Bowls and dishes of nuts, sweets, fruits, and rice and oil are all ready for Nowruz by now.
All family members sit down to paint the eggs for the Haft Sin spread, the concept here being that the earth is like the eggs. By painting the eggs, they are also painting the earth colorful. The young ones in the family all receive the share of the boiled eggs and go out into the street for the “Hilkeh Shakineh” ritual. In the capital of Sanandaj, Kurdistan, to break the eggs, two of the kids take their eggs and hit them together. The egg that breaks first is then given to the kid with the whole egg.
The special Nowruz eve meal in Sanandaj is usually halva and the main meal of rice and stew is eaten the following day. In these Kurdish areas, fire was special to Nowruz day and these were not lit on Chaharshanbeh Suri. People returned home for dinner once the fire went out.
Nowruz was also a special day for newly-weds. “Khancheh” large trays of gifts were carried to the houses of new brides and newly-engaged girls. The gifts included gold, perfume, handkerchiefs, socks, painted eggs, soaps, fabrics, fish, sherbet, sweets, and nuts. Last but not least, the most important item was red apples wrapped up in sheets of Dutch gold.
The people of Sanandaj place a full or half-length mirror against the wall with candleholders on each sides A small, white table cloth is spread out on the floor and decorated with the data-x-items of the Haft Sin spread, such as painted eggs, goldfish, red ribbons, sweets, nuts, and pitchers of sherbet.
There are numerous customs celebrated in other cities in Kurdistan, including going to the mountains and plains at first light to wet the hands with the morning dew and rub on the face and clothes as a cure for illnesses.