(Persia Digest) – Today, 20 March 2018, Iran is ushering in its New Year on the spring equinox at precisely 19:45:28 hours. The Iranian year is based on the solar calendar and this will be the year 1397 HS. The New Year is called Nowruz, or New Day, and has been celebrated for 3000 years on the Iranian Plateau. It was founded by the Medes at a time when Iranians were the happiest people on earth with more celebrations throughout the year than any other peoples. Out of these, the celebration of spring – Nowruz – has lasted to this day, not only in Iran, but also in many other neighboring countries and further afield. This is a secular celebration of spring and the revival of nature, when the earth has completed one full rotation around the sun.

Iranians spend their holidays visiting family and friends, and welcoming the return visit with special sweets and Persian cuisine. Nowruz, or New Day, has been proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as an intangible world heritage.

The main feature of Nowruz is its Haft Sin spread, decorated with seven edible data-x-items all beginning with the letter “S” in Persian. Each item is the symbol of something special, such as Senjed (Elaeagnus angustifolia) being the first fruit that ripens just before spring, starting the season of new fruits. It was believed in ancient times that Senjed was a whiff of love; the spirit of love entered the body of anyone who smelled it. Another item, Samanu, is cooked with ground wheat germs and is a nutritious, organic meal.

Sib, or apple, represents the perpetuation of life; Sir, garlic, is a disinfectant and cure for many aches and pains. Sabzeh, sprouting wheat and other seeds, is the desire of a flourishing farm and the symbol of what seeds will grow best in the coming year; a bowl of water – Su in Azeri – is also placed on the Haft Sin as a symbol of light and lucidity among other items.

Nowruz is celebrated for thirteen days in Iran.

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