Right after midnight on Wednesday, 21 March, Iranians will be celebrating Norouz (new day), the start of 1386, the new Iranian year – a celebration which is at least 2,500 years old. The new year is also celebrated in Afghanistan, in areas inhabited by the Kurds, in some former Soviet Union republics in central Asia including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and in some areas of Albania, where it is called Nevruz Sultan. Norouz dates back to the Zoroastrian period some five centuries BC.
Iranians today await Norouz with family members around a table set with a a red fish, a symbol of vitality which announces the end of winter and the beginning of spring and a candle, a symbol of light which in the ancient Zoroastrian religion represents the good.
Another object placed on the table of Iranians is a mirror to prompt participants to watch themselves inside aand out and many sweets so that the new year will not be bitter.
Seven elements starting with the letter ‘sin’ – s in farsi – also represent symbols that should be present in the coming year: sabzeh, sprouts of wheat which are a symbol of the earth’s fertility; sib, the apple, representing health in ancient Persia; samanu, ground wheat with honey, meaning the earth which nourishes humans; senjed, an allegedly aphorodisiac fruit which was once considered the fruit of love; sombol, hyacinth, which signals the arrival of spring on 21 March; sekkeh, a coin for prosperity; sir, garlic against evil; and coloured eggs, a symbol of fertility.
A typical menu for Iranians will include rice cooked with seven herbs, smoked fish, vegetables soup and seven-herbs omelettes.
Festivities for the new year start on the first Tuesday of the year with the chaharshanbeh suri, jumping on fire, a symbol of the Zoroastrian religion, and end thirteen days later with sizdahbedar, a party.
Original article here