Image of Amin Maghsoodi, Pacific Oaks staff, with a background symbolizing the Nowruz celebration.

Celebrating the Persian New Year

Amin Maghsoodi, director of outside recruitment and cohort development at Pacific Oaks College, shares his family’s Nowruz traditions.

March 16, 2021 marks the beginning of the Nowruz celebration. Nowruz is the Persian New Year and a festival that has been celebrated all over the world for thousands of years. Nowruz in Farsi means “new day,” and it is observed at the exact moment of the vernal equinox.

I have celebrated Nowruz traditions with my family every year for as long as I remember, and it is a tradition that my children get excited about every year. In my family, we always made sure to wear a new item of clothing, even if it was just a new pair of socks, to bring us good luck and prosperity in the new year.

The festive rituals begin with “Charshanbe Suri,” meaning “Festive Wednesday,” which is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the old year. People gather, light small bonfires, and jump over the flames, shouting “Zardi ye man az to. Sorkhi ye to az man,” meaning, “My yellow is yours. Your red is mine.” This is the time when Persians rid themselves of the bad luck from the previous year in hopes of good tidings to come in the new.

On Saturday, March 20, we countdown to the exact time of the vernal equinox (2:37 a.m. PDT) and wish everyone “Sol-e No Mobarak” or “happy new year.”

To begin the celebration, we set up our “Haft Seen,” meaning “Seven S’s” table, which has seven items starting with the Farsi letter “seen,” symbolizing rebirth, strength, love, sunrise, patience, beauty, and health, along with items that have meaning to our family. For example, we add the Qu’ran, a mirror, and a candlestick we used during our wedding ceremony. These items will be handed down to our children, and they can use them in their Haft Seen table.

We end the 14-day celebration with “Sizdeh Bedar,” meaning “Getting Rid of the Thirteenth,” which is a time when all Persians pack up their meals, grab their sabzeh (sprouted wheat germ) from their Haft Seen table, and head to the park or outdoors. My mom would always tell us that if you are indoors on Sizdeh Bedar, then you will spend the rest of the year indoors. To this day, she reminds me to make sure to take the kids out. This is a time of celebration to spend with your family and friends. In the park, we sing, dance, share food with our neighbors, and have an overall great time celebrating with everyone.

Join me and the millions of people around the world, and let’s celebrate Nowruz together!

Sal-e No Mobarak!

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