Tonight Iranian people will celebrate the ancient festival of fire or Chahar Shanbeh Soori in all Iranian cities. Chahar Shanbeh Soori, literally means Red Wednesday, is an ancient festival, dating back to 4000 years ago since the early Zoroastrian era, which is still celebrated the night before the last Wednesday of the year. The word Chahar Shanbeh means Wednesday and Suri is red.
On this occasion people make bon-fires on the streets and jump over them. The streets coming alive with children and people as families spill out of their homes and greet each other. The young use much firework before and during the Chaharshanbe Suri.
In Chaharshanbeh Soori, bonfires are made in the streets and some times in the yards. Based on Zoroastrain tradition the number of bonfires at any one place should be three representing the three holy values including: Good thoughts, Good words, and Good deeds. A bonfire can also be made in a single spot and this would symbolize unity and solidarity of Ahura.
Then someone is the first to go, taking a running start and jumping over the fire they say ‘Sorkhie to az man, Zardieh man az to. This rhyme complements this ancient purification ritual where the healthy glow of the fire is beseeched to bless the person and to take away all their sickness.
Another tradition practice in Chahar-Shanbeh Soori is that people, most often children and young adults, wear strange dresses and sometimes wrap themselves up in sheets to symbolize Sorkhie to az man, Zardieh man az to, literally means your redness (health) is mine, my paleness (pain) is yours. This phrase is whispered in Chaharshanbeh Soori, ancient purification ritual, while people jump over the fire.the shrouds of the dead and head go to the street with pots and pans to create a cacophony you will never forget. As the saying goes, they could wake the dead! And that’s pretty much the intention; this ancient ritual is said to ward off evil spirits. Then the kids go door to door to receive Chaharshanbeh Soori nuts, chocolates, etc.
It is said that wishes come true on the eve of Chahar-shanbeh Soori. So, the ones making wishes, should cook Pottage Ribbon called Ashe Reshteh in Farsi by themselves or assistance of friends and family members and serve it for guests and neighbors. It is cooked mainly by boiled beans and legumes, Spinach and some other vegetables, fried garlic and spearmint and noodles.
The ancient Iranians celebrated the last 10 days of the year in their annual obligation feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan or popularly Forodigan). They believed Farahvahar the messenger of Ahuramazda (in Zoroastrian belief), the guardian angles for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The ten-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans.
During ancient times, Iranian used to light fire on the roof by burning left belongings of the dead family members attracting and persuading their soul to come back and stay with them for a night. The reason for making fire was to invite soul of dead people in order to keep satanic soul or Ahriman far from the family gathering which is considered as a private community. Due to existence of this belief, houses were cleaned and dust was removed from houses of Iranians just in case make the invited soul happy and prove that the departed members are still enjoying their life in the other world and making people sure that there is no need to be worried about because all the sadness have been put aside by cleaning the house.
The tradition has still maintained among Iranian people, however after domination of Islam, the form of this tradition has somehow changed and people go to cemeteries and wash the graves of the dead family members and relatives instead of lighting fire on the roofs.
Today after more than four millennia, joy of Wednesday or Chaharshanbeh Soori is one of the most popular events amongst Iranian people. Although Chaharshanbeh Soori has its roots in ancient Zoroastrian fire festival, it is still maintained in Persian societies all over the world. However, nowadays young people in Iran have a different opinion about this festival and the way it is celebrated is quite different from what was practiced during ancient times. Sometimes people light very huge fires which sometimes make you feel that the whole city is burning. In addition to huge flames, some times young adults make small bombs and fire crackers which make loud noise and unfortunately sometimes cause lots of horrific accidents.
Original article here