Culinary Capers: Celebrating Norooz (Iranian New Year)

This weekend families in Iran and those of Iranian origins will celebrate Norooz – Iranian New Year- and the beginning of the new year according to the Iranian calendar. The celebration has taken place for 3,000 years and focuses on a family meal, lavishly decorated tables, and coloured eggs and gifts. Families traditionally go out for picnics, sing songs, light bonfires and youth will even leap over the fire as a sign of braveness and health. The fire leaping is referred to as Charshanbeh Suri. The thought is that the fire burns away all sickness. The family also sets up a table with a display including a mirror for looking back, a goldfish for luck, wheatgrass for rebirth and growth, dyed eggs for fertility and seven items starting with ‘s’. Some examples include apple (for beauty and health), garlic (for medicine), greens, vinegar (for age and patiences), blossoms such as hyacinth, coins, dried fruit (for love) and sweet paste from wheat.

See for beautiful photos of these decorations.

The Norooz celebrations start on the last Wednesday in the calendar – March 17th this year – and will also take place amongst families on the following weekend (March 20 – 21st). If your family is not of Iranian origin, you can still enjoy Iranian cuisine by checking out the Iranian restaurants in North Vancouver or buy traditional sweets at grocery stores such as Persia Foods at 15th and Lonsdale in North Vancouver.

If you would like to try a recipe from this holiday, Chef Louisa Shafia has provided a recipe for the bean soup on the Village Voice website. Her recipes can be found in her cookbook entitled Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscience Life.

See also:

Happy Nowruz: Cooking With Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year

New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

Article: Norooz customs

Photos: Norooz photos on Flickr

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