A Week of Joy

It’s past the halfway point of Lent this weekend. Yay! Also this week, we had St. Patrick’s Day (Lamh laidir!) and the feast of St. Joseph (we’re freed up from Friday fasting and abstinence, and nobody told me?!). It was a gala week.

But in Iran, it was more than that. The mullahcracy told Iranians they had to mourn, since this year the lunar mourning month of Moharram is now — despite the fact that Nou Ruz, the traditional Persian new year, is on the spring solstice. Also, they announced that Chahar Shanbe Soori, the pre-new year celebrations weren’t Islamic (which they’re not — they come down from the old Zoroastrian society and maybe before), and nobody should celebrate them. They said this to a populace already torqued off.

Chahar Shanbe Soori involves playing with fire. Jumping over bonfires, setting off firecrackers, all that sort of thing. And the mullahs tried to play with Chahar Shanbe Soori. Poor things. if the holiday’s been celebrated for more than two thousand years, and by members of every faith in Iran — and even by the Kurds! — Iranians are not going to give it up now.

So Wednesday was Chahar Shanbe Soori, and Friday was Nou Ruz, and the next two weeks are going to be one continual round of visits by Iranians to other Iranians. The whole thing wraps up with a picnic out in the country on the 13th day (Sizdeh Be-dar). The little grass sprouts folks have been growing (similar to the Adonis sprouts and “resurrection grass” used to celebrate Spring throughout the mideast from ancient times) get flung away, and bad luck and the old year are flung away with it. Unmarried women wish to bring a husband with them next year. (I really love all the Nou Ruz customs. Frankly, I think Americans are very likely to adopt at least a few — like Chahar Shanbe Soori! — because they’re fun.

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