Thursday, March 28, 2013

Persian New Year display at Michigan Tech Library marks symbolism, family customs

This display of symbolic items in Michigan Tech's Van Pelt and Opie Library is in honor of the Persian New Year, Norouz, celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox (Mar. 20 or 21), which marks the beginning of spring. The display is courtesy of the Iranian Community at Michigan Tech. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- An attractive display near the circulation desk of Michigan Tech's Van Pelt and Opie Library celebrates the Persian New Year, Norouz, which means the New Day. Norouz, celebrated over a period of 13 days at the beginning of spring, dates back thousands of years to Zoroastrianism, an ancient Iranian religion and philosophy.

The Persian New Year display includes an explanation of family customs during this time -- which include spring cleaning, shared by all household members.

The display includes several items, each of which has a symbolic meaning. Some examples are sib (apple), symbolizing beauty and health; sumac, a spice made of ground reddish drupes, suggesting the color of sunrise; samanoo, a sweet pudding made of wheat germ, symbolizing affluence; serkeh, vinegar, which stands for old age and patience; sir, garlic, which represents medicine; sabzeh, wheat, barley, and/or mung-bean sprouts, symbolizing rebirth of nature in spring; senjed, dried oleaster fruit symbolizing love.

During the 13-day celebration, Iranians visit the elder members of their extended families, who receive guests with open arms and give gifts, or Eidi, to the children. On the 13th day families picnic in parks or on any spot of grass they can find -- a tradition to avoid bad luck. They also dispose of wilting sprouts in streams and rivers. While doing so, many make a wish for good luck in the year ahead by tying two strings of sprout.

For more information, you can email the Iranian Community at Michigan Tech at

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