Stemming from Zoroastrian traditions, Seezdah-bedar is the Iranian festival celebrated on the thirteenth and final day of No-Ruz (Persian New Year).
The No-Ruz tradition, is a uniquely Persian custom going back 3000 years. Celebrated on the 21st of March, it is the day of Vernal Equinox which marks the blossoming of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
No-Ruz literally means ‘New Day’. Starting with Chahar-Shanbeh Soori , Fire Festival celebrated on the last Tuesday before No-Ruz, the festivities end thirteen days after the New Year with Seezdah-bedar.
On the thirteenth day of celebrations, Iranians head outdoors, picnicking at parks, fields or where-ever they find a patch of grass. Seezdah means thirteen, and bedar, get rid of, hence Seezdah Bedar literally means “getting rid of thirteen”.
Iranians believe heading outdoors and enjoying fresh air on the last day of festivities will clean the mind from negative thoughts, replacing it with joy and laughter. At the end of the picnic day, it’s ritual to throw away the Sabzeh – the green shoots, one of the seven traditional elements represented in the Haft Seen table decorations.
One of the favourite customs on this day is the knotting of blades of grass by unmarried girls. The knots represent love and bringing together of the single girls with their beloved. As young girls, my cousins and I knotted the blades with great enthusiasm, all the while dreaming of the latest celebrity that held our infatuation.
Following Iran’s revolution in 1979, the new Islamic Republic denounced the festivities as non-Islamic and tried to stamp out the traditions. However the festivities are entwined in the Iranian’s national identity and attempts at banning them failed.
Today, Iranians, regardless of their background and religion continue to celebrate No-Ruz. Steeped in the national psyche, it’s a bond that transcends race, religion or background.
What traditions does your family observe and what importance does it hold for you?
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Till next time…