Chaharshanbe Suri is one of the most important festivals in Iranian culture which happens annually on the last Wednesday of the Iranian month of Esfand, where people commandeer roads and alleyways and sometimes even parks to celebrate the end of the current lunar year.
Chaharshanbe means Wednesday and Suri means both ‘Red’ and ‘Celebration’. In this “red celebration”, people go out and make small fires and keep them burning until the next morning.
This act is symbolic of burning the badness, pain, unhappiness, sickness and worry and looking from the previous year with celebrations of the positive New Year (March 21).
Before the start of the festival, people gather brushwood in an open, free exterior space. At sunset, after making one or more bonfires, they jump over the flames, singing sorxi-ye to az man, zardi-ye man az to, literally meaning “let your ruddiness be mine, my paleness yours”, or a local equivalent of it.
Also, Chaharshanbe Suri includes customers similar to trick-or-treating in the West called gharshoq-zani, literally meaning spoon banging. People will be banging spoons against their old pots and pans and receive little gifts of sweets.
In Tehran, people drop a jug that was never used during the year from the roof of their house which is the symbol of destroying all the bad lucks and misfortunes that were stuck in the jug during the year.
Unmarried girls eavesdrop outside their neighbours’ doors as a divination on their marriage. What the girl hears will determine whether she is going to marry a nice man pretty soon or not. This tradition is less followed today or the girls do it for fun only.
So if you are looking to cast away the bad vibes of the past year, then have a wander around your local area in Tehran tonight to find a fire to jump over in the street. It’s great fun!
If you want to know more about the Persian New Year Nowruz, check out our previous articles!