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Lesson Transcript

Mohammad: Hi everyone! Mohammad here!
Becky: Welcome back to PersianPod101.com! I’m Becky, and this is All-About, Lesson 9 -Top 5 Most Important Dates on the Iranian Calendar. Mohammad, it must be difficult to choose just 5 dates, right?
Mohammad: It is! But we’ll only talk about the days that are widely celebrated.
Becky: Ok, let’s introduce them in ascending order of importance.

Lesson focus

Mohammad: How about introducing them in calendar order, since all of them are so popular?
Becky: That sounds great too. Let’s start with number 5...
Mohammad: "Yalda” or “Chelleh Night". "Chelleh" is the longest night of the year, and also the beginning of the first day of winter. It's also called "Yalda", meaning "Birth", which refers to the birth of the Sun.
Becky: It’s called the longest night because people stay awake all night and celebrate until morning to watch the sunrise.
Mohammad: That’s right. It's a ritual from old times. The presence of family elders in the ritual, is the symbol of the old sun. The fruits and nuts they eat in the celebration must be as red as the sun.
Becky: For example, they eat watermelon, pomegranate, and senjed, which are also symbols of blessing, health, and welfare. Okay, Mohammad. What else do they do during the night?
Mohammad: They read horoscopes from the book of "Hafez", and also predict the future from the emptiness or fullness of the walnuts they choose and crack.
Becky: It sounds like an interesting ritual. Okay, let’s move on to the next holiday. Number 4 is...
Mohammad: "Eid-e-Fetr"
Becky: Oh I know this one! Isn't it the feast that Muslims celebrate at the end of the "Ramadan" lunar month, when a whole month of fasting is finished?
Mohammad: It is. This holiday is the most popular in Iran. This is an official holiday and people do the feast prayer in large groups. Also, they celebrate and eat festive foods.
Becky: If I remember correctly, the exact date of "Fetr" is determined by observing the new crescent moon. Who confirms that?
Mohammad: It's done by the leader of the country of course.
Becky: I see. Mohammad, are there any other special rituals held on that day?
Mohammad: Yes, one of them is to perform body ablution, which is something everyone does – men, women, and children.
Becky: Ok, now let’s move on to number 3, which is the "Wednesday Party".
Mohammad: It's called "Chharshanbe Suri" in Persian. On this day, people celebrate the last Tuesday night of the year to welcome their new year, by making a fire and jumping through it.
Becky: In some other cultures too, there are similar dates when people jump through fire. Is it done to repel evil and make wishes come true?
Mohammad: Yes, exactly. When jumping through the fire, the people sing songs to dispel their weaknesses and sicknesses, which is known as yellow, and gain health and happiness which is known as red. The yellow and red colors are actually the colours of fire, which was the symbol of the original Persians.
Becky: What do they do after this ceremony?
Mohammad: They have to throw the ashes into flowing water, since it's considered unlucky. In modern Chharshanbe Suri, fireworks and firecrackers are also used on the day.
Becky: That sounds interesting! Now let's move on to number 2, which is...
Mohammad: "Nowruz". This is Persian New year, and the first day of spring in the Persian calendar. The word “Nowruz” is a compound of “Now” and “Ruz” which means ‘New’ and ‘Day’.
Becky: So the name of the holiday literally means ‘New day.’
Mohammad: That’s right. Some of the "Nowruz" traditions include visiting relatives and sightseeing during the holidays, and house-cleaning or ‘Khannetekani’ before the new year. But the most important of them all is "Haft-Sin". Becky do you know what "Haft-Sin" is?
Becky: I have read about it. It means setting a Nowruz table, with at least 7 symbols of spring whose names start with the "S" sound. Would you name them for our listeners, Mohammad?
Mohammad: Of Course. Sabzeh is herb, Samanu - a sweet juice, Senjed - a kind of fruit, Sir is garlic, Sib means apple, you know the fruity spice Sumac, Serkeh is Vinegar, Sonbol - the hyacinth flower, and Sekkeh means coin.
Becky: That's almost like a poem, and what a colourful table it must make! In addition to these, you can still find other things that don't start with "S", like a Candle as a symbol of light, a Colored Egg as a sign of birth, a Mirror as a sign of creation, and a Red Fish symbolizing life.
Mohammad: It sounds like a nice tradition, doesn’t it?
Becky: Definitely. And now for our last date. Number 1 is...
Mohammad: "Sizdah Bedar". It's the 13th day of spring and the end of the Persian new year celebrations. It is an official holiday, and is called "Nature Day" in Iran's calendars.
Becky: On this day, people spend most of their time outside the house and in nature. Is it because the number 13 is thought to bring bad luck, so they want to drive evil outside?
Mohammad: Yes, it was probably one of the reasons people went outside in the past, but nowadays, they only go out to celebrate and eat together outdoors, to officially end the new year feasts. There is a habit of entrusting the “Sabzeh” of “Haft Sin” to the river, and also of tying the grass as a sign of tying life with nature, to always stay fresh and merry.
Becky: Ok, that’s everything - the five most important holidays in Iran. We hope you'll have the chance to experience them for yourself someday.


Becky: Thank you for listening everyone. See you next time!
Mohammad: Bye.