NorooZ, always begins on the first day of spring and the ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts - the End and the Rebirth; or Good and Evil. A few weeks before the New Year, Iranians clean and rearrange their homes. They make new clothes, bake pastries. A few days prior to the New Year, a special cover is spread on a table in every Persian household. This ceremonial table is called cloth of seven dishes[ haft seen ]..each one beginning with the Persian letter Sinn !!!!. The number seven has been sacred in Iran since the ancient times, and the seven dishes stand for the seven angelic heralds of life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty. The symbolic dishes consist of:
1. Sabzeh or sprouts, usually wheat or lentil representing rebirth. 2. Samanu is a pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding and represents the ultimate sophistication of Persian cooking. 3. Seeb means apple and represents health and beauty. 4. Senjed the sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree, represents love. It has been said that when lotus tree is in full bloom, its fragrance and its fruit make people fall in love and become oblivious to all else. 5. Seer which is garlic in Persian, represents medicine. 6. Somaq sumac berries, represent the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun Good conquers Evil. 7. Serkeh or vinegar, represents age and patience.
To reconfirm all hopes and wishes expressed by the traditional foods, other elements and symbols are also on the sofreh):
* a few coins placed on the sofreh represent prosperity and wealth; * a basket of painted eggs represents fertility. * a Seville orange floating in a bowl of water represents the earth floating in space. * a goldfish in a bowl represents life and the end of astral year-picas. * a flask of rose water known for its magical cleansing power, is also included on the tablecloth. * Nearby is a brazier for burning wild rue ,a sacred herb whose smoldering fumes ward off evil spirits. * A pot of flowering hyacinth or narcissus is also set on the sofreh. * A mirror which represents the images and reflections of Creation as we celebrate anew the ancient Persian traditions and beliefs that creation took place on the first day of spring. * On either side of the mirror are two candlesticks holding a flickering candle for each child in the family. The candles represent enlightenment and happiness.