Sunday, March 16, 2008


a Nowruz altar (from Current TV)
The Spring Equinox is approaching.  We already are noticing the arrival of Spring around our home. Our bulbs have pushed their way up through the dirt and weeds that I haven't pulled(!) and opened their beautiful little flower-heads. The lambs are frolicking and knocking each other over. The plum trees are bursting with delicate, pink flowers that rain down on me as I walk by.

It makes sense that in some cultures, this is the time that the "New Year" is celebrated.  One of my favorites is the Persian festival of Nowruz.

Nowruz (which means "new day") marks the first day of the Iranian calendar, and it is a celebration of new beginnings.

First the home is cleaned thoroughly - spring cleaning!  This is the time to get rid of the old things that do not serve, get into all the nooks and crannies and make a sacred space of the home.  I've written before about how powerful the experience of cleaning my home can be (even when I don't want to do it!).

The home is filled with flowers, particularly honoring bulb flowers like hyacinth and tulips. And tiny seedlings are started, often in egg shells!  I love this idea of growing new little plants in the home in one of the most fertile symbols there is. As my husband and I continue to try to get pregnant, the though of having my home filled with new growth and symbols of fertility is very appealing!

Nowruz is a time for honoring family and ancestors, eating symbolic foods, and bringing in a healthy and prosperous new year. Being an Interfaith Minister, I enjoy learning about the traditions of other countries and faiths and, just as all artists do, interpreting it through my eyes and letting the rich history influence my own spiritual traditions.

There is a great radio piece highlighting Nowruz, where Bonny Wolf visits Najmieh Batmanglij, a Persian cookbook author living in Washington D.C. You can hear it here.

Much more detail about this holiday can be found here, including all the foods that are prepared and their meaning, as well as other objects placed on the table, like a mirror for for "cleanness and honesty," a bowl of water with a goldfish, to symbolize life within life and the sun leaving the sign of Pisces, and a bowl of water with an orange in it, which symbolizes the earth floating in space.

Enjoy the Spring Equinox (this Thursday), in any way that feels right to you.  Enjoy!

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