HaftSeen – The persian new year’s beautiful still-life



An iconic Norooz custom is creating a still-life tableau called HaftSeen — literally meaning:  “Seven S’s” –  a display of at least seven traditional and symbolic-laden items, all bearing names that begin with the letter “S” in Farsi.  Hence: Seven S.

Here’s a handy-dandy guide to what you would find in a haftseen display and the idealized wishes it symbolizes for the new year:


Candles, a mirror, a bowl of gold fish, fresh flowers, rose water, a holy book of one’s faith or the poetry books of revered Persian poets Hafiz or Rumi or Khayam, decorated eggs, and a mixed plate of traditional Iranian shirini (pastry) are “non-S” items that have carved an indelible niche at the haftseen table for themselves.  Some also float an orange in a crystal bowl of water to symbolize the planet earth.

People are of course at liberty to add other objects of delight as a personal touch to the setting as well.  (See how different people have put their own spin on the traditional template of this Norooz staple on this Flickr page.)

I’m biased of course but not alone in finding the making and setting of haftseen to be a truly poignant and poetic custom. The heart of the new year’s celebration.

It is at the proximity of the haftseen display that a family gathers to await the exact moment when winter ends and spring begins; and thus dawns the  “New Day” or Norooz.  This year Winter ends tomorrow at approximately 7 am Eastern Standard time.

So when we meet again, winter will be over. It will be spring.  Norooz.  A new day!

Until then, Happy Spring!

And if you observe this beautiful holiday:  Dorood bar shoma!  Norooz  ‘etoon Pirooz!


By Fig and Quince


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