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What is Chaharshanbe Suri?

Over the past few weeks, our little family has started to prepare for our second Persian New Year (Nowruz) in lockdown. But last night, it was time to celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri.

Nowruz means ‘new day’ in Persian and it’s an ancient festival which marks the rebirth of nature. To find out more, click here. For me, being a part of all the festivities is not only fun, but for Cyrus it’s about introducing him to H’s traditions. It also reminds me of my first official Nowruz celebrations in Iran when I had the most amazing time with family in Shiraz.

Part of the excitement of being married to someone of a different country is joining in the local holidays and traditions and I’d like Cyrus to grow up with experiences that will provide precious memories that will last a lifetime. 

Hopefully it will help him keep one foot firmly rooted in culture, while offering learning experiences that might not otherwise occur – as I don’t think he’ll be learning anything about Nowruz in the British school curriculum sadly. Now Chaharshanbe Suri is held on the sunset of the last Tuesday of the Persian year.

It is a fire jumping festival (so it’s not something to be tried at home – unless you know what you’re doing). Last night, my little family gathered by the fire, we jumped over it and chanted “Sorkhi-e to az man, zardi-e man az to” which translates to: “Give me your beautiful red colour and take back my sickly pallor.” Suri means red and fiery.

It felt more apt this year than ever after the Covid-19 pandemic that has taken its toll on the world.

In Iran on Chaharshanbe Suri, bonfires are lit in public places and with the help of light and fire it is hoped for enlightenment and happiness throughout the coming year.

Wednesday in Islamic tradition represents a bad omen day with unpleasant consequences, so the festival is celebrated on a Tuesday night to make sure all bad spirits are chased away and Wednesday will pass uneventfully.

One of the fun activities which Cyrus got involved in last night is done after the fire jumping and it’s called Ghashogh Zani, making a noise by banging his spoon on a bowl which he really loved.

I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have got his bowl filled with sweets or Ash (Persian soup) had he visited our neighbours (which is traditional). So instead we gave him a bowl and spoon to beat out the last unlucky Tuesday of the year (for a very short period) next to the fire and he loved it.

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Saffron and Cyrus is a Newcastle-based family lifestyle blog, covering diversity, self-care, 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 four-year-old Cyrus.

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