Nowruz Mobarak! Persian New Year Celebrates Spring and New Life

  • Table set with decorative cloth, a mirror, a goldfish bowl with toy goldfish, dishes of sweets, a clock, green sprouts and flowers.

    The "Haft-Seen" table celebrates seven items beginning with the letter "S," all having to do with nature. The items can vary but generally represent good wishes for the new year, including health, happiness and life. They include vinegar (serkeh) — for old age and patience; garlic (seer) — for medicine and health; sprouts (sabzeh) — for growth; sumac (sumach) — for new beginnings; a wheat-based pudding (samanu) for sweetness and fertility; dried fruit (senjed) — for love; and apple (seeb) — for beauty and health. The table also often includes a mirror, representing reflection; flowers — for renewal and spring; sweets — for happiness and joy; decorated eggs —representing fertility; coins — for prosperity, and a book — for knowledge or faith. The candles represent light and happiness, and the goldfish (usually live, in water — but we used toy fish here) represent life. Table decorations and photo styling by Nazanin Keynejad. Photo by Ringo Chiu/ CSUN.

  • Painted eggs sit in a dish on the Haft Seen table

    Beautifully decorated eggs are part of the "Haft-Seen" table for Nowruz and represent fertility and life. Families often decorate eggs together for the season. Table decorations and photo styling by Nazanin Keynejad. Photo by Ringo Chiu / CSUN.

  • A book with farsi print on the front sits at the center of the Haft Seen table. The book is surrounded by dishes filled with candy, spices and painted eggs.

    A book is the centerpiece of the table — either a holy book or poetry volume are most popular. A clock is often part of the table, to note the exact time of the Vernal Equinox, when celebrations begin. Table decorations and photo styling by Nazanin Keynejad. Photo by Ringo Chiu / CSUN.

Nowruz, which means “new day,” is the Persian New Year. It’s celebrated at the Spring Equinox (Vernal Equinox) — which happens around March 20-21 annually. This year, the equinox occurs at 8:06 p.m. PDT on March 19. Nowruz is celebrated all over the world, particularly in countries with significant Persian cultural influence, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Turkey. The holiday, which celebrates spring and new life, is observed by some as a religious event while for others, it’s secular. The traditions include a good “spring cleaning” of homes and donning new clothing and shoes. A Haft-Seen table is set with an arrangement of symbolic items, all beginning with the letter “S” and all having to do with nature.

At CSUN Today, we celebrated a little early with alumna Nazanin Keynejad ’95, M.A. ’16 (English). Keynejad serves as the communications associate for the Alumni Association and as adjunct lecturer in the Department of English. She set a traditional Haft-Seen table to show us how it’s done. Check out the photos for the explanation of the items.

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