Nowruz in Persian means “New-day,” and it is the beginning of a new year in the Persian calendar. A time of great joy, friends and families gather at Haft-seen or Haft-sinn (tables set with traditional foods,) feasting over traditional meals, families and reading poems.
Nowruz always begins the first day of spring and lasts for 13 days. Interestingly, all traditional dishes, and symbolic items during the New Year, start with the letter “S.” For example, Seeb (apple,) and Serke (vinegar) are traditional ingredients added to dishes during the New Year.
Nowruz is celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and a few of the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. In honor of the New Year, Pete A. Smith, Shirin Lotfi, Erfan Mb, Niemo Majidi, Stella Williams, Sarah Marahsani, Yasi Shariat, Armin K, Rahba, and Omid Fayazfar, creators of Bellevue College Persian Association, invited BC students to a fun event with music, dancing, and food.
The event was opened to anyone wanting to learn more about Persian culture. A PowerPoint presentation explaining the history of Nowruz was given. There was also a brief mention on the main traditional meals and their value in Persian culture, as well as a picture presentation on Iran’s seasons.
Music played along the picture presentation, since every season had its own traditional song to accompany it. During the presentation, people learned that Iran is the home to one of the tallest mountains in the world (Damavand mountain,) and that Iran is more than just desert- it actually snows there!
Pictures of Iran were presented in order to give people the opportunity of learning not just about Nowruz and Persian culture, but also about the natural habitats some of the countries that celebrate Nowruz have. There were awed expressions during the presentation; everyone got to see the sundown and sunrise during the four seasons in Iran.
Following the picture show, there were two poems read, one of them being “Only Breath.” After the poems were read, accompanied by traditional Persian music, guests were invited to lunch. Traditional dishes were served, and afterwards, the celebration continued in the cafeteria.
In the end Nowruz was a great event, people had a nice time learning about a different culture, enjoying Persian food, and admiring the beautiful traditional Persian arts.