March brings with it hope for spring (well, not for us in Vermont, but hey we can dream), thoughts of vegetable gardens, and the Persian New Year, which we Iranians refer to as Norouz.
Norouz (translates to “New Day”) takes place during the spring equinox (when night and day are approximately equal in duration throughout the world), and starts the New Year for Iranians. It is uniquely Iranian, with beautiful rituals and traditions that last for 13 days.
Norouz has been celebrated by Iranians around the world for over 3,000 years. Growing up in Iran, I have fond memories of all the wonderful celebrations which include:
Hajii Firuz, the herald of Norouz
The spring cleaning that the whole country seems to partake in
The Iranian festival of fire (Chaharshanbe Suri) – Where bonfires are lit in public on the last Wednesday before the new year. People jump over the flames, hoping for happiness for the new year. (by far my favorite)
Haft Sin, the beautiful table scene that is set, encompassing seven “s’s”. The seven items are usually apple, green grass, vinegar, a meal made out of wheat, a special berry, a coin, and garlic. These items all start with the letter “s” in Farsi and symbolize, love, happiness, health, and prosperity.
Sizdahbedar, the festival in which families gather at parks to picnic to avoid the bad luck of the thirteenth day.
When I first moved to the US, I was so focused on learning English and trying to adapt to the American way of life, that over time I lost touch with my Persian culture and heritage and was even forgetting Farsi. It wasn’t until I got married that I started thinking about my Persian identity and about reconnecting with my culture. When I spent time with my husband’s family, I loved that they still spoke Italian at home and that they kept up with a lot of their Italian traditions.
Since visiting Iran was out of the question, I made a decision to start incorporating some traditions from my country into our life. We started celebrating Norouz and I started learning how to cook Persian food as a way to reconnect with my Iranian culture. The cooking helped me feel more connected to my culture (food has a way of doing that) and spending hours on the phone with my mom (again mainly about food) made us talk a lot about Iran and our time there.
Today, my household encompasses several cultures, I am Iranian, my husband is Canadian with Italian parents and our daughter was born in the US and is African American. Collectively, we represent four countries and several cultural backgrounds. It is important for us and for our daughter that we celebrate and include culturally significant events in our life.
Some examples of this include:
- Having all four flags of our countries displayed in our home
- Speaking to and reading to our daughter in Farsi and Italian
- Talking to our daughter about civil rights and the history of blacks in this country
- Celebrating culturally significant holidays
As we begin to prepare for the celebrations of Norouz later this month, I am grateful that I found my way back to my culture. I celebrate my multicultural household and hope that my daughter will grow up with an understanding of the rich history and culture that we are lucky to have within our household.
What kind of multicultural households are out there in Vermont? What types of celebrations and traditions do you bring into your home to hold onto culture?