NORMAN — Most Americans celebrate the beginning of a new year on January 1st, while for Iranian Americans in harmony with the rebirth of nature, the new year celebration “Nowruz” always begins on the first day of spring, March 20, or March 21 and continues for 12 days. On the 13th day members of the family end their celebration by going out on a picnic.
Nowruz means new day, new life, and new start. Traditionally, a few weeks before Newruz, Iranians clean and rearrange their homes. Spring cleaning, “Khaneh Tekuni,” is deep cleaning from the top to the bottom of the house, to welcome the new year. Iranians buy or make new clothes and grow seeds as a sign of rebirth or renewal.
Shopping for new clothes and new shoes is one of the happiest memories for most Iranian children. I enjoyed seeing shiny shoes in children's shoe stores, shiny girl's shoes in different colors and designs with shiny bows, flowers, butterflies and many more designs. However this tradition of new clothes has changed over the years because people buy clothes, shoes and accessories more often.
Before Nowruz, Haji Firooz characters wearing makeup and red costume appear all over the cities, singing happy songs, dancing and playing a tambourine, kettledrum and trumpet. He spreads the news and good cheer of new year, and people enjoy his music while they are shopping. Amoo Nowruz or the uncle of Nowruz sometimes appears along with Haji Firooz, more respected, always older character. He tells the old story of Nowruz and gives the gifts and candies to the children. He is like Santa Claus and wears a costume with the white beard and mustache.
Chahar Shanbeh Soori held the last Tuesday of the year is one of the symbolic and meaningful celebrations. Family, friends and neighbors get together and set up piles of wood or brush in the streets and start lighting the piles right after the sunset. Everyone lines up, and, one by one, each person jumps over the piles and sings, “zardi-ye-man az to, sorkhi-ye to az man”, the special song means my yellowness is yours, your redness is mine. Iranians believe, people give pain and negativities to the fire, and receive the warmth, the health and strength from the fire. During Chahar Shanbeh Soori, in order to make wishes come true, it is customary to eat a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits such as pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins.