Hey, everyone! Spring is on its way, and if you are interested in Persian culture or Iranian arts and crafts (which you probably are, because well, look what blog you're readin'), then you're surely aware that Nowruz –the celebration of Iranian New Year– is getting closer every day. It's that time of the year when every Iranian starts designing their Haft Seen table in their mind and growing their lentil sprouts in their house. If you are a foreigner to Iran yet all that talk of Haft-Seen among your Iranian friends has made you curious about New Year celebration in Iran, then rest assured; because you are in a good place. I am gonna tell you all there is to know about the Persian new year, the Haft-Seen table, and also every meaning and symbol behind each element of Haft-Seen!
Every Iranian has good memories from Nowruz. Setting the table in the best way you can, the anxiety of two minutes before the beginning of the new year, and the wonder of what this year's gifts are gonna be. It's one of those times when nostalgia kicks in for most Iranians abroad. After reading this post, you'll know exactly what and how a Haft-Seen table is, and you might even want to set up one for your home! You'll be shocked to see It's not difficult at all, but it is actually quite fun! let’s get started!
What's the meaning of Nowruz?
Literally translating to “A New Day,” Nowruz (or Norooz) marks the first day of spring (March 21st) and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It’s no secret that Persians love any excuse to celebrate. But of all the many reasons, Nowruz (The Persian New Year), is by far the dearest and the most important one in the hearts of Iranians around the globe. This 3,000 year-old celebration began with the Zoroastrians living in the old Persia, now known as Iran. Today, people in many Middle Eastern countries—such as Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan celebrate Nowruz each year. To celebrate the New Year, families clean all the dust from their houses, wear their new clothes and gather around a specially prepared Haft Seen table. As they wait for the drums and trumpets to announce the beginning of the year, they make wishes for the days to come, read Quran, and enjoy a random poem of Hafiz.
What is the meaning of Haft Seen?
Items on the Haft Seen table (or Sofre Haftsin) refer to new life and renewal, and they are based on the magic of the number seven (Haft in Persian). The number seven has been sacred in Iran since the ancient times, and the seven dishes stand for the seven angelic bearers of life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty. Although the custom has evolved over the centuries and may have regional variations, at least seven basic items are traditionally placed on the Haft Seen table, each of the seven beginning with the letter "s" (Seen in Persian). Most of them also refer to the seven Zoroastrian immortals of the ancient Iran who guarded the sky, waters, earth, fire, plants, animals, and humans.
How Can I Set up a Haft Seen Table?
Are you ready to set up your own Haft Seen table and create this artistic collection of blessed and lucky things? In my opinion, setting up a Haft-Seen table is not that different from decorating a Christmas tree! The only difference is the elements and besides, you don't need to drag a huge tree to your house! I am going to teach you all about setting up a Haft-Seen table, and I'll explain all the meanings behind the items as well.
- The most critical point about Haft-Seen is symmetry. So the harmony between the background and the dishes is quite important.
- Having that in mind, you'll be needing seven similar containers for the seven blessed elements. Here is a Clay set of Earthenware decorated in Minakari which I personally find quite charming
- You'll also need a matching tablecloth. I suggest this Block print Qalamkar Tablecloth that is not only gorgeous, but it also fits perfectly with that clay set above. If you don't have a table cloth at hand, then a simple colorful cloth will do.
Let's prepare the Haft-Seen!
- Senjed (wild olives): Signifying fertility and love dried lotus fruit signifying love.
Somaq (sumac): berries, which represent the color of sunrise; and the triumph of Good over Evil.
Sib (apple): red apple is a sign of fertility and beauty.
Sekkeh (coins): you probably guessed it right; they signify wealth.
Sir (Garlic): representing good health.
Serkeh (vinegar): immortality and eternity.
Sabzeh (wheat, barley, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish): Sabzeh signifies rebirth, and a new beginning. That's the whole point of a new year, right? That's why Sabzeh gets one of the most important spots: in the center of the table.
Other symbols of good luck whichا always have their own reserved place on the table:
A Haft Seen table can also include other symbolic objects. In fact, there are so many things that Iranians add to the Haft Seen to make it much more beautiful, happy, and blest. The most popular ones are:
- Goldfish, to mark the passage from Pisces to Aries.
- A mirror, to reflect the light of wisdom and creation.
- A small brazier to burn wild rue, which is a sacred herb that is believed to ward off evil spirits.
- A book of poetry by the fourteenth-century poet Hafiz, whose poems are believed to predict the future.
- Rosewater, to purify and sweeten.
- An orange floating in a bowl of water, to represent the earth floating in the space:
Candles, to symbolize holy fire:
Painted eggs, to represent fertility:
And finally a copy of the Quran, as a symbol of prayers and religion.
Now you can set up your own Haft Seen table and celebrate along with all the Iranians! Don't forget to boast to them with all the knowledge you've gained about Haft-Seen symbols! Whether you prepare this for the fun or for the sake of Nowruz, I hope you really enjoy it! And if you already celebrate the Persian new year, then consider this post as my little Nowruz present to you. ;)
Happy Persian New Year!
P.S. By the way, if you're looking for simple but gorgeous tableware for your Haft Seen table, then make sure you check out our special handmade Clay set for Nowruz!
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