I really struggled to get the items I needed for my Sofreh Haft Sin during the pandemic last year. In fact, I even had to make sanitiser one of my Sins (seven Ss). While at the time, I was sure I wasn’t alone, celebrating Nowruz without a Sofreh Haft Sin is like trying to enjoy Christmas without a tree. It’s as simple as that.
While I’m proud of this year’s little table of delights, it wasn’t always like that. So I thought I’d share my experiences of Nowruz and Sofreh Haft Sin with you to show how things have developed over the years. Clearly, I have more help these days as Cyrus helps me out with decorating and painting the coloured eggs and growing sabzeh.
In the year 2006
We celebrated Nowruz in London in 2006 and as a result we bought the goldfish, hyacinth flowers and the sabzeh while we were there. London is the perfect place for buying all things Nowruz compared to the North East where we live. I still can’t get samanoo anywhere and I’d probably get odd looks if I asked for it in our local supermarket.
A few years later …
Another year, we headed to Scotland to see in Nowruz and friends cooked a delicious traditional new year meal of salmon in pomegranate sauce with dill rice and broad beans. It’s a dish we now make each year ourselves.
Best memories of Nowruz in Shiraz
Celebrating Nowruz with family and friends in Iran is one of my most treasured and most memorable celebrations. Not only were we all together after what seemed like so long, but we also got to travel from Tehran to Shiraz for an amazing visit with 15 members of H’s family. I got to see Nowruz in all its glory that year and I don’t think anything I put out on my haft sin spread will beat that experience. It was the best. The sights, the sounds and a chance greeting with haji firooz himself. Wonderful!
Nowruz and a home renovation
Living in the North East of England means the seven S’s are often hard to come by. We managed to improvise with some items when we were renovating our home. The funniest memory that year was while buying the goldfish. We were turned away from the store the first time we entered because the goldfish were resting between 12 noon and 2pm – and they were not to be disturbed. When we returned, the goldfish cost us in the region of £120! We hadn’t accounted for buying a BioOrb and everything that went with it.
Cyrus celebrates his first Nowruz
Since we wanted C’s first Nowruz to be special, we went to visit family in London. When we returned, our sabzeh had sprouted! We’d managed to pick up some samanoo and other decorative items while in the city. We also had a special ‘My first Nowruz’ T-shirt made for little C. You can read more here.
Nowruz during a pandemic
Our Sofreh Haft Sin was not much to look at last year, but Cyrus loved painting his eggs. This has certainly become a bit of a tradition now.
So what seven items do you need for a haft sin spread?
First of all, I guess I need to explain what a Sofreh Haft Sin actually is. It’s basically a table laden with spring items that are all steeped in meaning. Haft Sin in Farsi translates to seven “S.” The sofreh must have seven items that in Farsi begin with the letter “s,” specifically the letter “sin.”
The main items are:
1. Somagh (sumac) : symbolises the color of sunrise
2. Serkeh (vinegar): symbolises age and patience – because it takes time to make vinegar!
3. Senjed (dried fruit – Persian olive): symbolises love
4. Samanoo (sweet wheat pudding): symbolises affluence
5. Sabzeh (sprouts): symbolises rebirth
6. Sib (apple): represents the world
7. Seer (garlic): symbolises medicine
Additional items that begin with the letter “s” that we have included on our Sofreh this year are:
Sekkeh (gold coins): symbolise wealth and prosperity
Sonbol (hyacinth flowers): a spring flower
Other items on our spread:
Mahi (fish): symbolises life and its origins are based on a mythical fish – we opted for a painted fish vase this year!
Tokhmeh Morgh (egg): symbolises fertility
Sham (candle): means enlightenment
Shirini (sweets): which symbolises spreading sweetness – this year we opted for some personalised sweet treats from Chocface. The photos we chose were all from a spring woodland walk.
A book of poetry and prayer: to symbolise educational enlightenment.
Are you taking part in the Nowruz festivities? What items do you include in your haft sin spread? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.