Nowruz is celebrated as the new year by many nations and cultures in Central Asia and the Middle East and worldwide by the diasporas. Nowruz comes from the literal Farsi translation for “New Day”and it occurs each year at a time that coincides with the Spring Equinox. The exact time and date changes based on astrological calculations that ensure the new year begins at the exact moment when the sun crosses over the equator and day and night are of equal length. Usually this will occur between 19th-21st March. This year in Vancouver’s time zone Nowruz occurred at 2:37:28am on last Saturday 20th March 2021.
Nowruz celebrates the rebirth that occurs during the Spring season and the link between humans and nature. This holiday has occurred for thousands of years and has many traditions and symbols. Celebrations centre on visiting with family, spending time outdoors, and eating traditional foods.
One of the traditions associated with this holidays is the creation of a Haft-sin which is an offering table filled symbolic objects. Each object has a special meaning and story behind it. You can read more about this beautiful tradition here. The 13th day of Nowruz is known as Sizdah Bedar which translates to ‘Thirteen Outside’ and is meant to be spent outside enjoying nature. On this day many people take the wheatgrass from their haft-sin and release down a river.
We were lucky to have community members come and assemble a haft-sin for the West End community at Gordon House. We have placed the table by our front window and it has display tags to name each item. Come by and check it out!
This week our Young Ideas group teamed up with some members of our community to host a special virtual Nowruz community celebration. Participants received a free gift bag that had goodies such as Turkish Delight and Persian tea, plus a traditional recipe and some speciality ingredients to prepare the dish.
During the virtual celebration a community volunteer led a cooking demonstration on preparing this tasty vegetarian dish – Halim Badenjan with red lentil. All the ingredients can be purchased at a Persian grocer such as Aria in the West End.
Check out this recipe for those interested in learning to make their own Kashk.
In between the demonstration while we waited for things to cook, volunteers shared more Iranian holiday celebrations and information about Nowruz. One special tradition involves using poetry for the purposes of divination. Participants took turns asking their burning questions for the year ahead and then using the poetry from Hafiz and Rumi for insight.
Our seniors meal program participants also shared in the festivities as we served up a ‘Nowruz Celebration Bowl’ made with golden rice, lots of saffron and spices; chicken breast stewed in a fragrant sauces made of pomegranate molasses, walnuts, dates, onions and spices, and a side to chicken is a slow oven roasted stew made of fresh tomatoes and eggplants in a mix of orange juice and peels, plus other spices.
For those interested in learning more about Iranic cultures check out this Google Document.