Your Guide To ‘The Nowruz Festival’ in Iran

For over 3,000 years, the Iranian people have been celebrating a festival called Nowruz which is their New Year. The festival takes place each year between March 20th-23rd and signifies the first day of the Spring and the rebirth of nature. The Persian and Iranian New Year is one of the biggest celebrations of all the Persian festivals and is made up of various different customs as part of the overall celebrations. Let’s take a look at the past and the present of this incredible festival. The word Nowruz quite literally means new year and this is how the celebrations go down.

The Origins

For thousands and thousands of years, this time in the calendar has long been a celebration for many different religions and peoples, from the Zoroastars the Babylonians and to the Proto-Indo-Iranians as a celebration of the end of the winter. The vernal equinox signifies the beginning of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the rebirth of nature and the time when crops can once again be sewn. This is a celebration that is enjoyed by many different people’s and religions to this day but the largest by far is by the Iranian people by way of Nowruz.

Celebrations

There are many different parts of the overall celebrations and we are going to take a look into a few of the ways in which the people enjoy the festival.

Haft Sin

Some days before the New Year, a special cover called the cloth of seven dishes is placed on the Persian carpet or table in the household. The number 7 is sacred in Persian tradition and seven dishes are placed on the cloth to represent the seven angelic heralds of the life-rebirth. Sprouts, Samanu pudding, Apple (Seeb), Senjed (fruit from the locust tree,) Garlic (Seer,) Somaq berries and vinegar (Serkeh) are all laid out n the table. Other items can be placed on the table which represent hopes for the future, these range from coins for wealth, eggs for fertility, a mirror for reflection and sometimes an orange floating in a bowl of water to represent the Earth in space.

Chaharshanbe Souri

The actual beginnings of the celebration are on the eve of the final Wednesday of the year. Many bonfires are made and family members will jumping over the bonfire and chant “Give me your redness and take away my wintry sallow complexionˮ. When the fires go out, the ashes are collected and planted in the fields to represent the burial of the previous year.

Haji Firuz

The heralding of the New Year is this character who signifies a fire-keeper, a man from the village will dress up in a red get-up complete with black face and red hat. People will gather around Haji Firuz and chant, sing and play the tambourine to celebrate the New Year.

Sizdah Bedar

This occurs on the 13th day of the year and sees families take to the great outdoors to celebrate nature. They will take picnics and enjoy games in the fields. The sprouts (sabzeh) which have been kept on the tables or in the homes will be thrown into the fields to rid bad luck form the house and to make the nature greener.

And that is the celebrations of the Iranian New Year or Nowruz.

Weirdest And Most Wonderful Australia Festivals

For a nation who are considered pretty down-to-earth, straight shooting folk, you’d be surprised at juts what kind of weirdness goes on throughout Australia. I was intrigued to get involved with some of the most madcap festivals that the country has on offer so last year I headed down under, flew about, rented some cars from Budget and headed throughout as much of the land as I could to explore some of the crazy festivals that the country had in store and I wasn’t disappointed, here’s what I found.

Chinchilla

Chinchilla is the melon capital of Australia and in the late 80s there was a terrible drought which meant that production ground to a halt. Once the drought was over, the town organized a festival of all things melon-y and the results are awesome. Each year the town and tourists gather for a melon appreciation day which sees them compete in a range of activities that are based around, you’ve guessed it, melons. Here you will find melon skiing, pip spitting and eating contests as well as melon hats and memorabilia. Truly a festival like no other.

Darwin’s Beer Can Regatta

In what is a beautiful combination of sustainability and madness, each year Darwin runs its Beer Can regatta which sees inhabitants collecting all of the littered beer cans that are left on the beaches, and turns them into sea-worthy crafts which pit themselves against the other entrants. Winners of the regatta are not only judged on their ability to float but also their design which has led to some incredible, beer can masterpieces over the years.

Alice Springs Camel Race

Whilst horse racing does exist in Australia, the locals of Alice Springs have flipped the idea on its head and since around 1970 decided that camels are far more fun to race. The Uluru Camel Cup is a coveted trophy for which many practice all year to win, these feral beasts are highly populous in Australia and they can reach some truly incredible speeds.

Wife Carrying, Singleton

The highlight of the Singleton Agricultural Festival is the wife carrying competition, an idea first conceived in Finland but one which offers sufficient madness for the Aussies to jump on to. The wife carrying competition is more than just a race, entrants must not only hump their Sheilas to the finish line fastest but maneuver through a tricky obstacle course along the way. Once nothing more than an entertaining event, entrants these days take the competition far more seriously and the winner is highly respected.

Port Lincoln Tunarama Festival

Not just any seafood festival, the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln likes to add some real fun and games to they appreciation to all things marine life. At this festal you will find the high class side of things with oyster-sipping and fine dining and then at the other end of the spectrum you will find muscle-bound men hurling a frozen tuna fish to see who can throw it the furthest, true madness.

I would recommend that if you are visiting Australia this year then you check out which of these crazy festivals is on the calendar during your stay to appreciate a whole different side to the country.