Tasnim – Iranians are celebrating Chaharshanbe Soori, an ancient fire festival held on the eve of the last Wednesday of Iranian calendar year.
The Chaharshanbe Soori festival is full of special customs and rituals, especially jumping over fire. Fireworks and bonfires traditionally mark the last Wednesday of the Persian year.
As the sun sets, people light up fires and gather around to jump over them. As they do this, they sing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man” meaning my yellow is yours, your red is mine. In this ritual, they ask the fire to take their paleness and problems and in return give them energy and warmth.
Many different traditions are followed on this night in different cities of Iran. Jumping over the fire and buying a special mix of sweet and sour nuts is done in almost every city of Iran. It is believed that eating these nuts on Chaharshanbe Soori will make your wishes come true. One of the fun activities is done after fire jumping on this night and is similar to Trick or Treat of the Halloween night. Men and women cover their faces to not be recognized and go to their neighbor’s door making noise by hitting on a bowl with a spoon to notify the house members. When the house members hear the noise, one of them comes to the door, gets the bowl, fills it with Ash (Persian soup) or candy and brings it back to the person. The trick is not to be known by the house member. It is known as Ghashogh Zani in all cities.
In Tehran, people drop a jug that was never used during the year from the roof of their house which is the symbol of destroying all the bad lucks and misfortunes that were stuck in the jug during the year. Unmarried girls eavesdrop outside their neighbors’ doors as a divination on their marriage. What the girl hears will determine whether she is going to marry a nice man pretty soon or not. This tradition is less followed today or the girls do it for fun only.
In Isfahan, jumping over fire, dropping a jug from the roof, and eavesdropping by the girls are the common customaries on Chaharshanbe Soori night. There is a belief that if a person is experiencing an unfortunate situation, they must tie a corner of a handkerchief or any other piece of textile and stand on a way.
He or she will ask from the very first person that appears on the way to open the tie and this is how the bad situation will pass and that person will find the solution for their complex condition.
In Shiraz, people believe if they bathe in a qanat (traditional water system) that originates from tomb of Sa’adi on the eve of last Wednesday of the year they won’t get sick on the future year. The young girls go to the holy shrine of Shah-e Cheragh to pray for a blissful future and a good marriage. Eavesdropping is done by Shirazi girls as well. Of course reading Hafez on the last Tuesday night of the year is a custom that won’t be forgotten by Shirazi people. Any celebration is an excuse to pay tribute to this great Persian poet.
One of the interesting traditions done in Tabriz is that on Wednesday morning family members jump over springs and creeks three to seven times for a healthy new year. In this city, people jump over the fire on Tuesday evening and the girls go eavesdropping in the neighborhood as well. Wives buy a new mirror, a comb, and a sweep. Some people believe at the New Year the waters get renewed as well, so they break all the old jugs and fill new jugs by the new water to splash it in their rooms and make tea for a prosperous year ahead.
However, the traditional festival could be dangerous as well. Every year, authorities launch public awareness campaigns about the dangers of fireworks. During last year’s festival, three people were killed and more than 2,500 injured.
This year’s publicity campaign has also called for “respect” for 16 firefighters who were martyred battling a blaze in a Tehran high-rise in January.
That incident marked a moment of extreme sadness for the Iranian people. The firefighters have been esteemed as national heroes who sacrificed their own lives to save others.