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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Iran Series at PersianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Iranian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3, Fire Festival. In Persian, it’s called Chaahaar-Shanbeh Soori.
Have you ever heard of the celebration held in Iran in which participants jump over great rings of fire? This celebration is called Chaahaar-Shanbeh Soori in Persian, and is held on the last Tuesday night of the year according to the solar calendar.
In this lesson you will learn about how, on the evening of Chaahaar-Shanbeh Soori, Iranians light fires of all sizes in the streets, which they jump over to burn away whatever evil or sharr may be following them from the passing year.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What does the phrase Koozeh Shekani mean during the Fire Festival?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
This festival originated centuries ago, and is still alive and well today. People of all ages gather around small fires or aatash that light up the streets, joyously celebrating the passing of another year while dancing and jumping around the fire. With music, dancing, and the setting off of fireworks, or aatash bazi, the jubilation continues well past midnight. People who jump over the fire sing “Zardi-e Man az To, Sorkhi-e To az Man” which translates in English to my yellowness is yours, your redness is mine. In this song, yellow symbolizes sadness and sickness and red signifies happiness and well being, implying that by jumping over the fire, a person draws happiness and good health from the redness of the fire, and will have the yellowness of sickness and unhappiness drawn from them.
Qashoq-zani is another ritual associated with the Fire Festival. Though it has been abolished in most places, it is still practiced in some parts of Iran and is similar in many ways to Halloween. In this ritual, children and youth cover their faces with a piece of fabric as a way of hiding their identity and imitating the spirits of the dead. Boys walk from door to door beating bowls with spoons to make their presence known. When people hear the boys coming, they give them treats or chizhaye lezat bakhsh such as candy, money or nuts to acknowledge the spirits they represent, and of course to indulge them as well.
You may know that dried mixed nuts are an ever-present delicacy enjoyed at most Iranian celebrations. These mixed nuts are referred to as Ajil-e Moshkel-Goshaa, and typically include pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, roasted chickpeas and raisins, among other things. There is a folk-belief that eating these nuts rids people of hardship and evil, and thus, they are called Ajil-e Moshkel-Goshaa, which literally means “problem solvers”. These nuts are an indispensable part of the Fire Festival as well, and are eaten among friends and family members all through the night.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What does the phrase Koozeh Shekani mean during the Fire Festival?
Koozeh-Shekani is an old tradition in which people fill an old jug with coal, salt, and coins, which symbolize pain and calamity. This jug is then thrown down onto the street from the rooftops in a symbolic smashing gesture that represents the ridding of misfortune.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is there a celebration related to the cleansing power of fire in your country too?
Leave us a comment telling us at PersianPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!