The Iranian New Year, begins at the moment of the Spring Equinox. This year, that was at 11:30 pm on Saturday night, eastern time, Sunday morning in Iran.
For Iranians, New Years, Norooz, is as important as our Christmas, and many of them take two weeks off work to celebrate, spend time with friends and family, and exchange gifts. (I think almost every culture does a better job than Americans at having celebrations.)
Another thing they do is to set up a Haft Seen table. Haft Seen means “Seven S’s” and it is called that because they put seven things that start with S on the table, plus a few additional things.
I was too intimidated by the complexity to try this in the past two years of our marriage, but I read a little more about it this year and realized there is no “right” way and wrong way to do it. They put similar things on the table, but there is a lot of flexibility in how it is laid out and it’s final appearance. Figandqunice.com wrote a great post about what everything on the haft seen table means.
A dear friend had invited us over for an Israeli feast on Saturday night. So midweek, I asked her if I could try to surprise my husband and set up a Half Seen table at her house.
I made a list of things I would need and it was ridiculously long.
- Fish food
- Sprouted grass
- Colored eggs
- Dried fruit
- Red Apple
- Wheat pudding
I finally had a lunch break on Friday and drove around and collected as many of these things as I could. I had sneaked a few things out of the house and I left it all on my friend’s porch.
Saturday afternoon, saying I needed make-up, I was able to extend my errands with baby and stop by their house and bring a few other things, including the toy fish, which was much easier than the live fish and all that came with it.
My friend set everything up on the table and I sneaked the last few things out of the house in the diaper bag and was able to set them on the table before he noticed.
I wasn’t at all sure he would realize what it was, or that he would care, and by the end, I found my own personal scavenger hunt to be so entertaining, I would have been okay, if he didn’t even realize what I had done.
But he did.
He didn’t see it at first. He was busy helping in the kitchen and I told him I needed to show him something, but as soon as he saw it, I knew I had succeeded. He is still smiling about it and it has been moved to our house where he set it back up for the remaining two weeks of Norooz.
I have lived overseas in a foreign land. I know what it is to be homesick during American holidays like Thanksgiving. Apparently, a Haft Seen table to an Iranian on Norooz, is like a turkey at Thankgiving, or a tree at Christmas, and I’m feeling ready to tackle the next Iranian tradition, the picnic on day 13 of Norooz, Sez de Bedar.
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