Chaharshanbe Suri, Join in the Persian Fire Festival in Iran
Chaharshanbe Suri, or Iranian Fire Festival, is one of the most important Iranian festivals held on the last Wednesday (Tuesday night) of the year and is one of the first celebrations of Nowruz (Persian new year).
What Does Chaharshanbe Suri Mean?
The term Chaharshanbe Suri consists of two words; “Chaharshanbe” meaning Wednesday (referring to the last Wednesday of the Persian year) and “Suri” meaning light. Literally, the term “Suri” means light, brightness, or a kind of red color that refers to the fire flames and the redness of the face, which is a sign of health and happiness; because Iranians believe that jumping over the fire in Charshanbe Soori ceremony brings health and luckiness.
When Is Chaharshanbe Suri Celebrated?
The Persian year is based on the Iranian calendar, and Chaharshanbeh Suri begins at sunset on the last Tuesday of each Iranian year and continues until midnight. Therefore, the date of the Charshanbe soori celebration changes every year. For example, Chaharshanbeh Suri 2021 is on March 16th based on the Gregorian calendar or Esfand 26th based on the Persian calendar. The Iranians celebrate the festival of fire, jumping over fire, dancing, gathering, singing folklore songs, and eating.
Chaharshanbe Suri Origin
Chaharshanbe Suri event has an ancient history and is the first ceremony of Nowruz celebrations. There are various narrations about the origin of the fire festival in Iran, and we have brought two of the most common ones here.
When the Iranian calendar was compiled in the time of Zoroaster, the new year was on Tuesday night. The ancient Iranians celebrated the new year of that year with fireworks. Years passed, and the celebration on the last Tuesday of the year, regardless of the beginning of the year, became a long-standing cultural tradition in Iran.
The second narration says that after the Arab domination over Iran, since they considered Wednesday an unlucky day, the Iranians started to celebrate on the last Tuesday of the year to fight against this misfortune.
Whatever the origin of Chaharshanbe Suri is, all Iranians celebrate this Persian festival. Accordingly, they light large and small fires in the streets and alleys and jump over them. One of the reasons people are still eager to celebrate this day is that the Persian Festival of Fire is connected to Eid-e Nowruz.
Chaharshanbe Suri Traditions
The purpose of holding a festival of fire in Iran is to repel evil and calamity and fulfill their wishes according to their ancestors’ customs.
In the last hours of Tuesday, fireworks sound can be heard little by little and makes the sky bright and colorful.
Notably, fireworks are just one part of this Persian festival; Family members gather together and celebrate this night together.
Like any other ceremony, this celebration has its own customs and traditions, which we will discuss below.
Iranian Fire Jumping Festival
The most important Chaharshanbeh Suri ritual that is still alive is to light fire, jump over it and spend the night around by the fire. To perform this ritual, people gather dry branches and shrubs and light large and small fires in the streets, alleys, and even on the roofs of houses. Then, all family members jump over the fire and sing the Charshanbe Soori saying: Zardi-e man az to, sorkhi-e to az man,” meaning “My yellow is yours, your red is mine.” This phrase is a kind of prayer in which we ask the fire to give us its freshness and warmth and instead burn our sickness, problems, and afflictions. Then, friends and family circle around the fire, eating, singing, and dancing.
In the Kurdish cities of Iran, people light fires in the mountains on Chaharshanbe Suri evening. All people hold each other hands around the fire, sing their ancient songs and hymns, and perform Kurdish dance.
Notably, today, everything does not end with just starting a fire and jumping over it, but firework materials such as firecrackers and squibs create different effects in the streets. Colored fires and waterfalls of sparks can be seen everywhere.
Qaashoq-Zani (Spoon-hitting), the Iranian Halloween
One of the most interesting Charshanbe soori ceremonies still held in some parts of Iran, such as Ahvaz, is the Qaashogh-Zani; it is somehow like trick-or-treating of Halloween but older. In this ceremony, young girls and boys cover their heads with a veil and take a spoon and a bowl. Then they go to the neighbors’ house and hit spoons to the bowls. Hearing the sound of spoon-hitting, the landlord goes to the door and fills their bowls with nuts, chocolate, sweets, or money. According to this tradition, those who take something from the landlord become fortunate and blessed.
The spoon-hitting ritual is derived from the belief that at the end of the year, the spirits of the dead visit their family houses with covered faces to receive blessings from them. As they cannot speak, they use Spoon-hitting to communicate.
Kuze-Shekani (Earthenware Jug-Shattering)
Another special Chaharshanbe Suri ceremony that was mostly performed in the past was shattering an earthenware jug. To do this ritual, the Iranians put some salt (to defeat the evil eye), charcoal (symbol of sickness), and a cheap coin (symbol of poverty) in an old earthenware jug. Then each member of the family turns the jug around his head, and the last person throws the jug from the roof to the alley. People believed they would drive pain, poverty, and misery out of their homes by doing this ritual.
Shaal-Andazi is another Chaharshanbeh Suri custom that is practiced in Hamedan, Zanjan, and some Iran villages.
In this tradition, young people tie colorful shawls together to make long colorful rope. Then they send it into the neighbor’s house through the chimney and, with a few loud coughs, attract the landlord’s attention.
As soon as the landlord sees the colorful shawl, he ties the Charshanbe Soori gift in it. Then the person on the roof draws the shawl.
Each gift symbolizes something; bread is the sign of blessing; pastry means happiness; pomegranate symbolizes fertility.
FaalGoosh in Charshanbeh Soori is one of the traditions that has almost been forgotten. In ancient times, on Charshanbe Soori day, young girls went to the alleys and hid in a corner to eavesdrop on what the people would say. Then they interpreted what they had heard as their omen.
Gereh-Goshaee (Problem Solving)
In the past, those who had a problem would make a knot on a corner of their clothes on Chaharshanbe Suri night and wait in the alley. Then they asked the first person who passed to untie the knot. The kinder was the person, the more likely the problem was to be solved.
Chaharshanbe Suri Food
Chaharshanbe Suri night food includes various nuts (called Ajile Chahar Shanbeh Suri) and fruits that family members eat around the fire. Besides, in some parts of Iran, special food is prepared for the Chaharshanbe Suri festival.
For instance, people in different parts of Iran make Ash Reshteh (Persian noodle soup) or a kind of local soup; While some prepare a dish called Ash-e Abu Darda. Actually, they cook this soup if they have a sick person at home and want him to be healed in the new year.
Of course, the ancient Iranians cooked a pilaf called “Polo Haft Rang” on Charshanbe Soori night. Accordingly, they prepared seven different kinds of colorful pilafs; Pilafs with dates, cumin, raisins, dill, lentils, beans, etc.
Celebrating Chaharshanbe Suri with Local People in Iran
Wherever you are in Iran on Charshanbe Soori, you can participate in this nationwide event. You can join the locals with prearranging and experience this traditional festival among locals. However, if this would not be possible for you, you can hear the fireworks’ sound and see the colorful night sky. Also, in the alleys or some open areas, you will see locals jumping over the fire and singing folklore melodies.
Why Is Participating in the Iranian Festival of Fire so Unique?
- By getting in touch with local communities and families in an ancient and happy ceremony, you can dive into the culture of Iran.
- You will enjoy singing and dancing around the fire together with the locals.
- You can taste delicious Persian foods and especially Ajile Chahar Shanbeh Suri.
Read Articles about: Iran Culture
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