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Nowruz 2023: Burnaby celebrates Persian New Year

Persian New Year is almost here

It’s almost Persian New Year – Nowruz mubarak!

Nowruz (also spelled Norooz), meaning new year, is an ancient Zoroastrian festival marking the first day of spring.

The festival spans 13 days with various events and celebrations. Earlier this week, local non-profit Burnaby Neighbourhood House hosted Afghan refugees for their first Nowruz in Canada.

This year, Nowruz is Monday, March 20.

At Burnaby City Hall, you can see one important Nowruz tradition: the haft seen table.

Haft seen translates to “seven S’s”: the table is set with seven items beginning with the Farsi letter S, which is pronounced “seen.” The Farsi word for seven is “haft.”

The seven essential items on a haft seen table include:

  • Sabzeh: Wheatgrass or lentil sprouts grown in the dish
  • Samanue: A sweet pudding made from wheat germ
  • Senjec: Dried oleaster (or dried fruit of a lotus tree)
  • Seer: Garlic
  • Seeb: Apple
  • Sumac: A crushed spice
  • Serkeh: Vinegar

“Plus, lots of sweets, mixed nuts, fruits, flowers, goldfish and eggs,” said Parvin Chami, a long-time Burnaby resident originally from Iran.

“While the spreads themselves can vary from elaborate displays with unique additions and beautiful ornate features to small and simple tables, the seven core items are their one commonality,” said Burnaby’s manager of equity, diversity and inclusion, Vishad Deeplaul.

The haft seen table is just one of the city’s initiatives to celebrate the diverse cultures of the community, said Deeplaul.

“It is thought beautiful and simple ways like this we can learn, appreciate and respect the diversity of our colleagues,” he added, noting the haft seen table at city hall was set up by the School of Islamic Sufism.

Other Nowruz traditions include the festival of the fire dance, Chaharshanbeh Suri, Chami said.

“We believe spring is the best time to celebrate the new year, because it is the birth of the earth,” Chami said.

“The earth renews itself; trees are blooming; flowers are blooming … Even the birds are singing.”

TELL US: What are your Nowruz traditions? How do you celebrate spring? Let us know.