Nowruz Community Celebration

Haft-sin on display at Gordon House

Nowruz mobārak!

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!

volunteer assembling haft-sin

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.

volunteer led cooking demonstration

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.

the finished product!
dish prepared by a participant

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.

Saint Patrick’s Day

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday celebrated on the 17th of March each year. In Ireland this date is a national holiday – schools and workplaces are closed and parades of all sizes are held in every city and small town.


Historically Ireland was a very religious Catholic country. Saint Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint because he was responsible for bringing Christianity to the island. He is also credited with introducing the shamrock as an important Irish symbol by associating it with the Holy Trinity, and he is said to have preformed a number of miracles such as banishing all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea!

Over the years Ireland experienced a mass immigration of millions of people due to poverty and famine. This has created a large Irish diaspora and resulted in worldwide Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrations. Today it is more commonly known as ‘Paddy’s Day’ and many Irish people and those with Irish ancestry celebrate their Irish heritage by wearing green and having more than a few drinks!


In the Irish language whiskey is called ‘uisce beatha’ which translates to – ‘water of life’. Check out this recipe for hot whiskey that uses just lemon, cloves, whiskey, hot water, and optional brown sugar. Best enjoyed in moderation!

The Irish language is called Gaeilge and you can learn some for free via Duolingo.

For anyone who missed out on the sourdough craze last year our Irish Soda Bread Recipe might be appealing as it is a much more simply made type of bread.

Ireland has a vibrant music scene, and there are many Spotify playlists where you can listen to both modern and traditional Irish music depending on your music tastes: Breath of Fresh Eire, New Eire, Alternative Eire, Irish Folk Ballads, Irish Folk, 50 Irish Folks Songs, Traditional Irish Music, Irish Pub Songs, and many more!

Ireland has many myths, legends, and old fairy tales that would be best described as ghost stories. Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats catalogued these stories in his book ‘Irish Fairy and Folk Tales’ which is available at Vancouver Public Library.

Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ has a website which houses the countries largest collection of audiovisual archival materials. Check it out if you are interested in seeing some old fashioned Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Clean Team Is Hiring!

At Gordon Neighbourhood House, we feel fortunate to work and play in such a beautiful area. To honour the sense of pride we have in the neighbourhood, we teamed up with the West End Business Improvement Association to create the Clean Team Program.

The Clean Team is funded by the West End Business Improvement Association and has been running for five years with the intention of keeping our community litter-free. The program runs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm. Our team performs general commercial sidewalk and street cleaning, 3-11 illegal dumping reports, graffiti removal, power washing, leaf removal, along with poster and sticker removal on Denman, Davie, and Robson streets. The Clean Team also works with schools, businesses, and organizations interested in community cleanups by organizing events where we map out a cleanup route around the neighbourhood.

We are currently looking for an individual passionate about the community and litter prevention to join The Clean Team. If this sounds like the right fit for you, please email

Job Description Here!

Gordon Groaners—Jokes so Bad They’re Good

COVID-19 is no laughing matter. We get that. While the coronavirus is certainly worrisome for everyone, some groups have suffered more than others.

The West End has long been known for its resilience and character, this has helped bring a light to all of us struggling through a hard winter.

We have selected a few jokes, riddles, and trivia (with prizes) to provide some humor during these challenging times. We encourage you to use this and other forms of self-care to boost your spirits. There is light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and we can’t wait to rejoice with you! 

Why couldn’t the bicycle stand up by itself?
It was two tired.  

What did the fish say when it hit a wall?

What do you get from a pampered cow?
Spoiled milk.  

Is the pool safe for diving?
It deep ends. 

TRIVIA: Who started the annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1st, 1920 with just 10 people?
Hint: A West End lane is named after this individual.

We have lots of great prizes for our trivia question. Email your answer to to be entered into the draw.

In addition to self-care, did you know Gordon Neighbourhood House offers free counselling in multiple languages! Our counselling program is appropriate for individuals, couples or groups navigating grief, loss, anxiety, depression, transition and more. All counselling is supported with regular clinical supervision. For more information, please email