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Persian Traditions: Cultures, Values, Sheep’s Head Soup

Persian traditions

As you know if you’re up to speed with this blog, my husband comes from Persia and I am English. I was born and raised in the North East of England, while my husband, H, grew up in Tehran. As a result, we have grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles 4,000 miles away and our separate family units couldn’t be any more different from each other.

Celebrating Traditions

I decided to write this post because I’ve been asked many times if I celebrate Persian traditions here in the UK because of my husband. It was even on the lips of our health visitor when she came to see us for the first time. The answer is plain and simple – NO! In my opinion, when you meet someone from a different culture and decide to spend the rest of your life with them, you need to learn to navigate as a team.

Blending Cultures

Sometimes the cultural elements present challenges, but it’s been my commitment to blending cultures, values and traditions that has kept us strong. If I’d been told that on our wedding day I’d be inviting someone to dance with a large knife in front of family and friends, it’s possible I may have laughed at the absurdity of it all.

Evil Eye

For example, if I’d been told that we’d be smashing eggs under the tyres of our wedding car and someone wafting wild rue incense above our heads as we set off – to ward off the evil eye – it would have raised a chuckle. And, if I’d been informed that I’d be jumping over a fire and chanting one day of the year, I’d have told you it was too dangerous. As for growing lentil sprouts only to throw them into a river a month later, I’d have giggled. Most of all, if I’d been told I’d be eating kale pache (sheep’s head soup), I’d have definitely pulled a face.

Sheep’s Head Soup

I’ve since done all of the above and more. Everything I have learned from my husband’s culture has been full of fun … even eating the sheep soup. In the years since we first met, we have worked at our multicultural relationship which has grown. Instead of arguing over what to name our baby, we agreed at the 12-week scan on Cyrus because everything about him was great.

Frequent Translations

Living with a culture so different from my own does mean there have been cultural misunderstandings. But our marriage has helped us blur racial, nationalistic and cultural lines. I now feel the need to teach Cyrus about his heritage more than my husband. The cultural side of things is important for my in-laws because it’s something we can share via video link. My mother-in-law hasn’t seen Cyrus yet which breaks our hearts and I know she wishes that was different. She’d love nothing more than to jump right in and play with him and cook for us.

Persian Books

Sadly our finances do not allow us all to get together, and that is very hard for us. Given that I grew up in a monoculture family, exposing Cyrus to all kinds of different cultures is important to me. The decision is a no-brainer. We have two cultures, so we will celebrate the best of both worlds. We will read Persian books, listen to songs, cook food and help him build a sense of identity.

First Shab-e Yalda

Though he’s not aware of it yet, he has already celebrated his first Shab-e Yalda, Christmas, New Year, Chaharshanbe Suri, Nowruz and Sizdah Bedar. He is soon to get his first Easter egg. I want him to feel Persian and British and speak, sing and talk in Farsi, study in English and learn another foreign language.

I’m not going to gloss over the differences with him as he grows and asks questions. The best strategy so far has been to acknowledge both cultures because they incorporate who we are as parents.


Saffron and Cyrus is a Newcastle-based family lifestyle blog, covering health, wellness, days out, travel, reviews, recipes and more from our family life.
The blog is written by new mum over 40, Aranda, with input from hubby H and son, Little C.

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