New-Rooz Mobarak! (Happy New Year!)

In harmony with the rebirth of nature, the Iranian New Year Celebration, New_Rooz, always begins on the first day of Spring. This celebration and its rituals go back to at least three thousand years ago. New-Rooz means the "New Day", and refers to a new beginning, a new year. The year changes on the Vernal Equinox or "Saal-Tahveel" which may occur on March 20, 21 or 22. It makes its arrival at the precise moment that the sun crosses the Equator. It is Amou New-Rooz (Uncle New-Rooz, similar to Santa Claus) who kicks out the winter cold and brings life to nature and warmth to every household. The months in the Persian calendar are the same as those seen in astrology charts or horoscopes.
This year's "Saal-Tahveel" is at 11:35:14 PM PST (US) on Sunday March 19, 2000.
(It is 11:05:14 AM Tehran time)
Make sure you are smiling and wearing something new at that moment because that is how you will be for the rest of the new year! To this day, a few weeks before the new year, Iranians thoroughly clean and rearrange their homes. They make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as signs of renewal. The ceremonial cloth known as Haft-Seen is set up in each household.

Haft-Seen or The Table of Seven S's is a ritualistic table that Iranians prepare and sit around it at "Saal-Tahveel". Haft means "seven" in Persian, and Seen is the 15th letter of the Persian alphabet (which consists of 32 letters) and phonologically it corresponds to the letter S in the English language. The following seven things whose names start with the letter "Seen" must be present on any Haft-Seen table. The following is a list of "Haft-Seen" items and a brief description of their symbolic meaning or cultural significance.

1) Sabzeh (sprouts, usually lentil or wheat): Representing fertility and rebirth of nature.
2) Seeb (apple): Represents natural beauty.
3) Samanu (a pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding): Represents the reward of patience.
4) Somaq (somaq berry used as spice): Represents the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun Good conquers Evil.
5) 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.
6) Seer (garlic): Represents health.
7) Serkeh (vinegar): Represents age.

Other items that you may see on Haft-Seen table:

A mirror which represents the images and reflections of Creation that by Persian beliefs 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.
Sonbol (Hyacinth): Spring flowers with the scent of heaven.
Sekkeh (coins): 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.
And finally, incenses (mounted in sprouts) whose fumes ward off evil spirits.

At New-Rooz, children get new bills or coins from elderly relatives, but what is most widely exchanged is HUGs and KISSes! for renewing relationships!