Say what?! Transliteration from farsi: Happy New Year! It's the first day of spring (so they say...it was snowing in Dallas this weekend, that doesn't exactly scream spring time to me) which can only mean one thing if you're persian and/or Bahai-time to celebrate a new year! For Baha'is the new year commences at sunset the evening before March 21st each year, it's a time of celebration, feasting and visiting loved ones. For persians, the new year also begins on the first day of spring although based on the lunar calendar in Iran, the exact hour on March 20th changes from year to year. In Iran, the new year celebrations began as a Zoroastrian celebration and are the equivalent of "the holidays" in America. Students get a few weeks off from school, kids are basking in the glory of gifts and lute from their relatives and everyone is traveling around to visit their families. Out of respect and tradition, it's always custom for the younger children/siblings/adults to visit the older generations first. I really love this holiday, I've been home with my family almost every year and there are two traditions in particular that I always look forward to.
1. The Haft Sin. Though I'm a bit unsure of all the historical implications, the haft sin is basically a table set up with seven items which begin with the letter "sin" in farsi. I think the number seven has religious implications, but again I'm a bit foggy on the details. Hyacinths (farsi = sonbol); Vinegar (farsi = serkeh); Apples (farsi = seeb); Garlic (farsi = seer) are a few of the staples that always make it to the table. The idea is that these seven items are all naturally occurring items symbolizing rebirth and prosperity in the new year...or so I was explained. I just love it because it's pretty and the smell of hyacinths is intoxicatingly good!
2. Sabzi Polo Mahi. Literally meaning herb rice with fish, it's the traditional meal to bring in the new year. The fish can be fried, baked, broiled, smoked, grilled, whatever you want. Just make sure it's some variety of white fish. I remember when I was younger my mom would drag me to the persian market in Dallas to buy the fish and I would be so grossed out by the glassy eyes staring at me. But that fear is long gone! This year I helped my mom scale and stuff all the fish. In the province of Iran where my parents grew up, the fish are stuffed with this incredible tamarind, parsley, cilantro and garlic concoction that no description of mine could do justice.
Minus the unexpected arctic temperatures, I had such a good time back home. I even got some lute of my own that I'm quite excited about. With the time change and nicer weather in San Antonio I'm hoping to get back in my running groove. This is going to hurt if I don't get back into things quick!