University | 11:44 pm | March 21, 2012 | By Michelle Hackman

Dining halls feature celebrations of Persian New Year

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Photo by Michelle Hackman.

The Persian New Year has come to Yale’s dining halls.

The holiday, known as “norouz” in Farsi, takes place each year on the spring equinox — this year, 1:11 a.m. Tuesday on the East Coast. The Iranian Student Association at Yale teamed up with Yale Dining to set up a haftsin (pronounced “haft-seen”) in Commons and each residential college dining hall. A Haftsin, the traditional New Year display in a Persian home, is a table covered with an assortment of seven symbolic food items.

The origins of the tradition are unknown, though it is theorized that they originate from the Zoroastrian religion. Today, Norouz is a largely secular holiday. It is celebrated in Iran as well as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The following items are included in a Haftsin:

Sabzeh – wheat, barley, or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth

Samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing prosperity

Senjed – dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love

Sīr – garlic – symbolizing medicine

Sīb – apples – symbolizing beauty and health

Somaq – sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise

Serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience

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