Norooz, meaning “new day,” is a new year celebration beginning at the exact moment the spring equinox arrives. It is pronounced “no-ruse” and has been spelled in various ways after being translated, such as Nowruz, Norouz, and Nauruz. It is a 3,000-year-old celebration from the Persian diaspora that celebrates the arrival of spring as victory over darkness. The spring equinox is also the first day of the year in Iran, whose calendar begins with the spring equinox.
Norooz is one of the most important holidays in Iran and is celebrated as an official holiday in other countries like Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia’s Bayan-Ölgii province, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also celebrated in places like Turkey, India and other places with Persian enclaves such as Europe, Australia, the U.S. and our own Palo Alto!
Prepare Your Home
Days before Norooz, families will often give their homes a thorough cleaning, as doing so gets rid of the negative energy that has built up over the previous year. This is called khaneh-takooni, or “shaking the house.” Check out some great Books on Cleaning and Getting Organized.
Places to Donate items you no longer need:
- Goodwill of Silicon Valley: Clothes, Household Items, Misc.
- Friends of the Palo Alto Library: Books, Movies, Puzzles, Games
- Hope Services: Clothes, Household Items, etc.
After preparing the home, cleaning, and getting rid of negative energy, many will take part in a fire-jumping ritual that has survived thousands of years to rid the individual of negative energy as well. Chaharshanbe Suri, or “Scarlet Wednesday,” is an auspicious day, recognized on the Wednesday before Norooz, and commences with firecrackers, sparklers, and small bonfires over which many jump. Jumping over this fire is symbolic of exchanging any negativity and sickness from you, in exchange for the fire’s positive energy and warm glow.
Families buy new clothes to wear for the new year and set up their Haft-Seen, or Sevens S’s table. This holiday spread is set to symbolize hopes for the new year, and include:
- sabzeh: lentil and/or wheat sprouts, symbolizing growth and rebirth
- seeb: apple, symbolizing beauty and health
- senjed: oleaster, symbolizing love
- samanu: wheat germ pudding, symbolizing affluence
- somâgh: sumac, symbolizing the color of sunrise
- seer: garlic, symbolizing medicine
- serkeh: vinegar, symbolizing age and patience
Take a tour of a Haft-Seen table, opens a new window put together by library staff member, Maryam!
Children receive a special gift of money, presented to them by their elders, or hidden in a cherished book. Traditionally, people will spend the first twelve days of Norooz visiting family and friends, although this year with the pandemic situation, everyone should do this safely from afar or virtually. The 13th days of Norooz is called sizdeh bedar, or getting rid of 13. It is considered bad luck to stay indoors on the 13th day of the new year so many will spend the day outdoors, barbequing, or having a picnic in the park. This year, many will enjoy eating outdoors while avoiding large gatherings.
Find lots of great Norooz crafts and activities you can do at home on our Norooz New Year board on Pinterest.
Watch our craft video to learn how to make beautiful egg decorations, opens a new window to put on your own Norooz New Year table!
PACL @ Home
- Read about the Norooz New Year and Springtime at home with these great books!
- Enjoy stories and songs at a special Norooz New Year Storytime on Saturday, March 19 at 11 am on Facebook!
- Learn some dance moves just in time to celebrate! Norooz New Year Dance Lesson with Niosha Dance Academy, live on Thursday, March 24 at 6:30 PM. (Registration Required)
And Don’t Forget...
- If you create anything at home please share your creations with us on Instagram and tag @PaloAltoLibrary!
- Follow Us on all of our social media platforms for more information and inspiration!
Palo Alto City Library wishes everyone a very safe and Happy Norooz New Year!
Melody Tehrani, Senior Librarian, Rinconada Library