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There are many events in Iran for tourists to enjoy. The Iranian people are very faithful to the old Persian traditions and therefore maintain rituals and celebrations that are more than 3000 years old, some of the popular festivals in Iran are even Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Nowruz is the Persian New Year and one of the most important popular holidays in Iran. It coincides with the spring equinox and depending on the area is celebrated between 20 and 22 March. As a spring festival, it celebrates the arrival of good weather, abundant harvests and the rebirth of life after a cold winter. It is also a phase of renovation, of opening doors and windows and purifying and thoroughly cleaning the homes. Iranians celebrate Nowruz by visiting family members and organising a large number of meals that last well into the night. One of the most outstanding characteristics of the Iranians is their hospitality and this festivity is perfect for putting it into practice.
A few days before Nowruz, the Chaharshanbe Surí takes place, which is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the year. From the Iranian year, that is, March. The division of the day in the Persian tradition does not occur at midnight as in Western culture, but at sunset. And that means, late afternoon. Many fires are lit in the streets during this festivity, since it symbolises goodness and it is through it that the Iranians want to take the step towards the new year. In addition, according to tradition, the spirits of the dead visit the living on the last day of the year. Some people dress in shrouds to represent these visits. The children go from door to door asking for aguinaldos (treats) and walk through the streets making noises to scare away bad luck.
Another popular festival in Iran is the Sizda Bedar, which is celebrated on the 13th of Farvardin, the first month of the solar year. It coincides with the 2nd of the western calendar. It is a holy day and full of good auspices. Thirteen is a magical number in Persian tradition. In Sizda Bedar the Iranians go out of their houses to celebrate life and spring and be in contact with the nature. The Sabzé, one of the elements of the Haft-sin, the traditional table that usually sprouts with some seed or legume, is thrown into the water. Thus the water takes away all that is bad and allows for the renewal and rebirth that the new season brings.
Our ancestors, some 7000 years ago, found a way to measure time based on the position of the sun in the sky and it was decided that the longest night of the year should be the first of winter. In Iran that night is the night of Yalda and begins to be celebrated from 8 pm. It is one of the most ancient events in Iran and coincides with the winter solstice, the 21st of December of our calendar. It is also known as Shabe Chele (which would be translated as the night of Lent).
On this very important night they celebrate the birth of the god Mitra who represents the universal light and symbolises justice, truth and kindness, and the triumph of the sun over the night and darkness. Bonfires are lit throughout this night to attract the benevolence of Mitra. Iranians dance, sing and perform folk music, recite poetry or tell ancient stories. It is one of the most important popular festivals in Iran.
Both festivals are typical of the Islamic tradition. Ramadan is celebrated in the ninth month of its calendar and lasts for 30 days. It consists of fasting from dawn to sunset. This fast is intended to combat evil, atone for sins and obtain divine forgiveness. At the end of the Ramadan period, the Eid al-Fitr is celebrated, which extends over the first three days of Shawwal (the tenth month of the Muslim calendar). It begins with breakfast and then the Muslims bathe, perfume themselves and wear new clothes to visit their families and give them gifts or sweets as a sign of love and share a traditional meal together.
It is curious to note that Iran's calendar, although it is solar, does not begin the year in January, as we have seen, but in Farvardin, at the end of March, coinciding with the spring equinox. It also uses the lunar calendar, and each lunar year has 11 days less than the solar one. Since events in Iran are calculated on the basis of the lunar calendar, they do not usually coincide from one year to the next. Therefore, if you are going to travel to this magical country, book the dates to enjoy one of these popular festivals in Iran.
Travel to Iran
“All in all, the trip was a real eye-opener and a great success.”
“The guides were exceptional and the country is beautiful. Let’s hope more and more people visit this fascinating country.”
“We have just returned from a most AMAZING HOLIDAY with your company, all the comments in the UK of danger and bitterness in Iran was quickly dispelled by the tour guides and coach drivers as they were a delight from day one. The hotels and restaurants selected were also very good.”
“He was knowledgeable, thorough, very willing to give extra time and information in relation to things we were surprised he was prepared to talk about. Absolutely excellent, and we enjoyed the hard work it took in keeping up with him and his fabulous stories.
“The itinerary was good, both the guides were excellent, and the people of Iran were really friendly and eager to converse with us.”
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