by Miles Leicher
This past Sunday marked Nowruz, or the beginning of the Persian New Year. It is observed primarily in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, but also here in the United States (well, at least until Arizona passes a law against it). Our very own Executive Producer, Sheila Griffiths, found the time to share with me how her family marks the day.
Miles: Nowruz Mobarak, Sheila! So, what is Nowruz and how does your family celebrate it?
Sheila: Nowruz is rooted in Zoroastrian tradition. It is celebrated on the first day of spring and honors the renewal of life. Prior to Nowruz, we set up a holiday table called the Haft-Sinn. For Persians, this is like decorating the house at Christmas time. On Nowruz, we have a special meal called Sabzi Pollow Mahi. This usually includes a big family gathering. It is also customary for the elders in our family to give the children money.
Miles: That sounds like a fun custom... maybe I should start it with my elders. Which is your favorite tradition?
Sheila: On the last Wednesday prior to Nowruz, it is tradition to jump over fire. This night is called Wild Fire Eve or Chahar Shanbeh Suri. The purpose of this is to ward off the evil eye for the coming year. It's always fun to see what type of fire we jump over.