Monday, March 19, 2007

Norouz mobarak!

Today and for the next couple of days, I will be doing something I have never done before, but will probably do again next March, and for every year thereafter. I have been sending e-greeting cards to some of my Iranian friends, wishing them all a happy Norouz, the Persian New Year, which has been a fixture in their society ever since the time of Zoroaster, and perhaps even before that. I understand the Islamic government tried to abolish the annual celebration, met with absolutely no success, and in the end abandoned the effort. Norouz officially takes place on March 21, at the precise moment of the vernal equinox; but the celebration begins some days prior to that date and goes on for about 13 days. During that time, pretty much everything in Iran shuts down, and families and friends visit each other and exchange gifts. Norouz, a festival of joy and rejoicing and just plain fun, puts our own Christmas holiday season to shame.

I believe the Iranians have the right idea, celebrating the coming of the New Year upon the arrival of spring, rather than in the dead of winter, as we do. Over time, I might learn more about the celebration and try to incorporate elements of it into my own family's rituals -- for our Home Evenings, perhaps. However, there is a part of the Norouz celebration which, in view of my arthritis and the general lack of coordination and agility which long preceded the onset of my affliction, I think I will skip altogether. It is called Chaharshanbe Suri, and consists of jumping over bonfires -- an act which is supposed to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. I think I will either let the Iranians do that for me vicariously, or else take my chances with the darkness.

I made a reference to Chaharshanbe Suri in one of the e-cards I sent today, quoting a well-known nursery rhyme, along with an addendum I saw more than 40 years ago in a "Dennis the Menace" comic book:

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick.
Jack jump over
The candlestick.

You GOTTA be quick
Or you'll get burned.
I tried it once --
That's how I learned.

My blog is occasionally visited by some of the Iranians I know. If any of them happens to see this, but is somehow overlooked on my list of e-greetings, I wish you and yours the best for the season. Norouz mobarak!

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