Spring is in the air!
The snow is melting and we can breathe in the fresh air once again. It’s a time for new beginnings, renewal, fresh energy, cleansing, and new habits. The natural world around us is going through a change and we can also go through some internal changes with it. Transition phases are great times to start new habits, let go of the past, and start fresh.
For me, it is also the time for beginning the celebrations of the Persian new year “Nowruz”.
The new year festivities begin the first day of spring (this year March 20th) and it’s one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Nowruz is celebrated in many different countries, some of which include, Afghanistan, Albania, India, Iran, Kazhakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. Nowruz has a lot of traditions that really highlight the transformative aspects of a new beginning and time for change. I wanted to share how I see these pieces culturally, but also as a psychologist, appreciate the chance for growth, development, renewal, and change every year.
One of the first parts of getting ready for the new year festivities and spring, is cleaning your home. The idea behind this is to cleanse your space — dust, scrub, and tidy up the environment you live in on a daily basis. After months of winter lounging, freshening up your space can feel like a breath of fresh air when entering your home. I always feels so much better when my space is cleaner and I add a little spring color or flowers to liven it up.
Jumping Over Fire
Another fun cleansing tradition that starts the new year festivities is Chaharshanbeh Soori (Red Wednesday). This is an event where people get together, sing, light bonfires and jump over them. People will chant a phrase that translates to “Take away my sickness and give me the healthy vibrant glow of the fire”. This is so much fun and an exciting way to start off the festivities.
One of my favorite parts of the celebrations are reconnecting with family and friends. Traditionally, everyone bakes treats and gets ready for people to come over unannounced. Many families have get togethers, visit other families, or make plans to have a large party as a community. The adults give children gifts of toys or money. It is tradition to wear new clothes or have something new for the new year to start fresh. This year I made my family play some silly games to get everyone laughing. It’s always fun reminiscing, hugging, and laughing with family and friends and I cherish these moments the most.
One of the most special and symbolic parts of the Persian Nowruz is the Haftseen. Haftseen is a table set up by families in their homes that contains a lot of symbolic items for the new year. The items on the table include garlic, vinegar, herbs, flowers, wheat grass, coins, fruits, mirrors, eggs, goldfish, and other decorations. These items symbolize hopes for the new year, growth, development, health, wealth, success, and protection from negative aspects of life. It always makes me smile seeing my families haftseen and it’s how I know spring is here!
My hope in sharing this part of my culture is to spread knowledge about this very special holiday and to appreciate the psychological well-being components that promote connection, growth, development, gratitude, and renewal with the beginning of spring. Hopefully you will be inspired to celebrate spring as well.
Nowruz Mubarak (Happy New Year)!
If you would like to learn more about Nowruz, I have included some information here.
Author: Michelle NanjiDr. Nanji is a Post-doctoral Psychologist in the State of Iowa. She works with clients across the lifespan with all presenting concerns. She respects the multiple identities clients may hold across gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and others. She believes in building a strong therapeutic relationship for clients to feel safe and supported during challenging times in their lives.
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