For thousands of years, the Persian peoples have celebrated the first day of spring as their new year. This is the biggest holiday of the year where we live and people have been preparing for weeks.
The four Tuesdays preceding spring represent earth, water, wind and fire. On these days, children drop a hat in front of neighbors' doors, knock and run. The neighbor puts candy, fruit, nuts, cookies or coins in the hat. As soon as the door is closed, the children grab their hats and go to the next door.
Fire jumping is another favorite tradition. This has its roots in ancient fire worship and is supposed to cleanse away the jumper's sins.
Food is important to any celebration, no matter the culture. Women get together (you can't cook alone, after all) and bake every kind of sweet imaginable. Many families will have guests several times during the last week of the holiday.
Superstition is part of everything that happens this week. The last Tuesday before spring is especially significant. Dreams are always important to the people here, but any dream they "see" on that Tuesday night has great meaning for them. Single girls in particular will use different methods of predicting their future on this day and night. One of the most popular and most-used methods of discovering what the coming year holds is eavesdropping at the home of another person. If you listen at their door and hear something good, you will have good luck during the year.
Over the next days and weeks I will be sharing about some of our activities during this holiday time.