Friday is the first day of Spring and the Persian New Year. Although Armenian, my family is from Iran and we revel in celebrations from our Zoroastrian roots. A special tablescape called haft sin (meaning seven S’s) is set up before the eve of the first day of Spring. Seven items whose names begin with the letter S in Farsi are featured, each one representing the seven ancient Zoroastrian figures who protect the waters, fire, earth, heavens, plants, animals and humans.
-Apple represents health and beauty
-Garlic stands for medicine
-Green sprouts grown from lentils or wheat symbolize rebirth
-Coins symbolize prosperity
-Hyacinth represents Spring and Heaven
-Sumac (a tart spice) translates to the sunrise
-Vinegar stands for patience
-Wild olive fruit (oleaster) symbolizes love
A holy book is usually on the table, lit by candles and the reflection of a mirror. I always have my grandmother’s leatherbound bible set as a reminder of her sweet personality. Often a goldfish flutters in a glass bowl, bringing life to this festive table. An orange set in a bowl of water is fabled to rotate right at the turn of the new year, imitating the start of the earth’s new cycle. Traditional sweets, pastries and painted eggs attest to the hospitality of the Persian people. My table has one additional character, an adorable Haji Firuz egg that is an easy and fun way to teach kids about traditions from the Old World. Haji Firooz is a mythical jovial figure, dressed in his trademark red costume and soot-covered face. He oversees major celebrations such as the Persian New Year and weddings, often handing gifts to children while dancing and tapping his tamborine. Making the Haji Firuz egg is a fun, easy craft that anyone, even the little ones can tackle. Your local craft store has everything you need. Make a few extra and give them as gifts to your fellow Iranians.
cardboard or wood egg(s)
nontoxic acrylic paint: red, black, white
a CD or any round object with a 4-inch diameter
stapler or tape
Now that my decorations are in place, I can focus on the food, my favourite part of any holiday. Thanks to Persian Basket, I have everything I need on hand and do not have to stress about getting to the stores for those last-minute items. Thursday night is the eve of the New Year. So, we will have the TV set to the Persian channel so we can enjoy traditional music. Mom’s Herb Beef Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) is sure to make everyone happy at dinner, after which we will enjoy freshly brewed tea and yummy treats. We hope you will join us in keeping old traditions alive and celebrating a fresh start with Spring.