Chaharshanbe Suri (Firework Wednesday) is an Iranian festival celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year).Chaharshanbe Suri is a fire festival dating back to the time of ancient Persia when fire was considered as one of the main elements of Persian culture. It was celebrated in all regions and was considered as a common culture among Aryan tribes.
Chaharshanbe Suri literally is translated Red Wednesday. The red is said to be a symbol of red flames of fire. Every tribe and ethnicity celebrates the fire festival according to their particular customs; fire, however, is the main and shared element common in all regions. Fire is one of the classical elements and is known as the only element which is pure and symbol of lighting, purity, freshness, life, health and most importantly the clearest symbol of God on the land.
This red celebration takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar. On Tuesday evening, people go out, make seven bushfires at sunset; the idea is to not let the sun set. The fires supposedly keep the sun alive 'til the early hours of the morning. On this evening, very similar to Halloween’s Trick-or-Treat customs, Iranian children re-enact the visits by spirits by wrapping themselves in white cloths and running through streets banging on pots and pans with spoons, trick or treating from door to door.
The ritual is known as Ghashogh Zani (spoon beating) and symbolizes the beating out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year. People jump over the fires, singing the traditional song of:
Sorkhi-ye to az man
Zardi-ye man az to
It can be translated as:
Your burning red color shall be mine,
My sickly yellow paleness shall be yours.
Simply interpreted, the chant means you want the fire to take your paleness, sickness and problems; in return, the fire will give you its redness, warmth and energy.
Nowruz (literally translated New Day) is one of the oldest celebrations in ancient Persia, which is held vigorously in the first day spring markign the beginning of the Iranian calendar (21 March). Nowruz festivities celebrate the beginning of rebirth of nature and lasts for 13 consecutive days. Celebrated by millions of people in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey, Nowruz is inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Nowruz is celebrated practicing certain rituals such as spring cleaning, to sprout wheat or mung beans, buying new clothes, cooking local foods and baking sweets.
The Secret of Haft-Seen
Families usually gather around the Haft-Seen table to celebrate the precise moment the Earth finished its annual journey around the Sun to celebrate the first day of spring. The Haft-Seen table contains seven edible items that their names begin with a letter in the Persian alphabet which is equivalent to “S” in English. It usually includes Seeb (apple), Sabze (green sprouts), Serke (vinegar), Samanoo (a delicacy made from wheat sprouts), Senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), Sumac, and Seer (garlic).
You may see a holy book, mirror (sign of sincerity), gold fish (sign of livelihood), candles (sign of light and bright), decorated eggs (sign of rebirth), and Divan-e Hafez on the table. Sabzi Polo with fried fish is served as the main course of most of Iranian families on Nowruz day.