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Chaharshanbe suri-In-Iran

Chaharshanbe suri

In the contrary to what is believed, praising Fire in ancient Iran doesn’t mean worshiping it but rather Fire is assumed a sign of light and the truth about Ahura mazda. In this sense it is a metaphor.

Iranian era

Like most of other Iranian celebrations, the Suri celebration, what is now called Chaharshanbe suri, is dependant on astronomy. It has also been the basis for all scientific and calendar calculations. In 1725 BC, Zarathustra calculated the most prominent almanac of the world. He found the leap year and arranged the ancient History. Against some other ceremonies, Chaharshanbe suri is rooted from ancient Iran and it is not wrong to say that it was so much more important than Nowrooz. But nowadays it is not appreciated enough. Suri celebration is not only a ceremony but a remembrance of a part of the dignified History of Iran.

Suri Celebration or Chaharshanbe suri

Today, Iranian people hold Chaharshanbe suri in different ways. Every spot of the country celebrates it in its own way but they are all totally different from what the original ceremony used to be. In larger cities it seems that the original customs of Suri celebration is about to be forgotten and the new forms are some festivals which have nothing to do with the original celebration. (Of course there are still links between Chaharshanbe suri and the ancient Suri celebration in some counties, small towns and villages.) No research has found a historical evidence to show the exact day in which the Suri celebration was held in ancient time. What is for sure is the impossibility for the ancient Iranians to hold the Suri Celebration in a definite day, like Chaharshanbe suri’s night nowadays because the ancient Iranian calendar didn’t consist of the seven days of a week but each day had its own specific name. The calendar that is used today, in which each month is divided to four weeks and each week is divided to seven days, is used from the time of the attack of Arab tribes to Iran and hence it is received from them. Before that Iranian months were divided to five, five days which were called Panja and they were like the division used in ancient Egypt and Babylon. The ancient Iranian calendar included twelve months, each thirty days. There was no month with thirty one day. In the leap year there were five more days inspired by the names of Gathas. These five days were called Panja, khashma, Panjeya Dozdida, Khamseya Mostaregha, Gah, Andargah, Yahizak, Panja va. So in ancient Iran the Suri celebration could not have been on Wednesday night because there was no Saturday, Wednesday or Friday.

An ancient Iranian belief about Chaharshanbe suri

According to ancient people, Forouhars came from their place in Heaven to their lands. They go among their families and stay with them for ten days and nights. The night before twenty sixth of Esfand (March 16) is the time when they descend. Through these days the families wear new clothes and put sugar coated nuts, sugar candy, cookies, fruit, vegetables, flowers, the Holy Book, candle and fragrant woods on a table cloth. They forget the spites so that if the souls of the dead come to them, feel happy and satisfied with them and bless the family. During these days people used to set fire on the roofs to guide the souls of those who were dead to find home. It was also popular to put special foods beside the fire. (The FOROUHAR is one of the inner secret abilities of Man who was living prior the man was born and he turns back to heavens after leaving the world of being. The FOROUHAR is an invisible soul.) The reason to pay attention to Forough and setting fire Forough means brightness and light. According to lessons of Zarathustra fire is created by Ahuramazda and Forough is taken from that. In the contrary to what is believed praising fire doesn’t mean worshiping it but rather fire is assumed a sign of light and the truth of Ahuramazda. In this sense it is a metaphor. Ancient Iranians as well as the followers of the religion of Behi (Zoroastrians) believed that Ahura was the absolute creator of the universe and he had no geographical directions and he is not form material. Therefore wherever place they saw Forough they took it as a sign of light and the true existence of Ahuramazda. That is why they prayed to the direction of Forough. In ancient time they had the notion that fire had the capacity of being anti-infectious. In fact they believed fire as the destroyer of sickness and badness which were created by the allowance of Ahuramazda and through Angareminu. These are all the reasons why in ancient Iranian religion fire was praised and most ceremonies and celebrations were held in its presence.

Chaharshanbe suri Ceremony

Burning bushes

It is a tradition in Iran for families to provide bushes on the roofs or yards or on the passages in Chaharshanbe suri. They do it before sunset and divide the bushes to three, five or seven parts. When the sun begins to set all the people whether old or young gather together and set bonfires. Then all of them jump over the fire three times to avoid the yellowness of sadness and sickness and receive the redness of health and happiness. They also sing songs while jumping. My yellowness is yours/ your redness is mine The ashes remain from Chaharshanbe suri is sinister because people give their yellowness and sickness to it through contagion magic and receive its redness and liveliness by singing “My yellowness is yours/ your redness is mine” All the housewives take the ashes out of the house and pour it in a crossroads or in a stream of water. Back home they nock the door and tell the residents that they come from a wedding and have brought happiness and health for them. The family opens the door so the housewives bring health and happiness to the house for one year. Iranian people believe that setting fire and burning bushes clear the house from infections and keep the evil of wickedness away from the environment. To avoid contamination of the fire they pour the ashes in the crossroads or in a stream of water and wind or water will clean it.

Beating Spoons

Wishful women or girls take a spoon and a copper bowl and go to the allies. They stand in front of seven houses and beat the spoon to the bowl while uttering no words. The landlord or the landlady, who knows they have wishes, puts some cookies, nuts, rice or money in their bowls. If those who beat spoons don’t receive anything their wished won’t come true. Sometimes men, especially bachelors wear chadors and go to their friends, acquaintances or fiancés just for fun.

Chaharshanba suri’s broth

In ancient Iran the families who had a wish or a patient made an oblation for their wish to come true or the patient to get well. They cooked Abudarda or the patient broth on the last Wednesday night of the year and gave some of it to the patient and the rest to the poor.

Sharing nuts in Chaharshanba suri

The women who had a wish bought seven kinds of nuts, nuts of Chaharshanba suri, from a shop in front of the Kiblah. They cleaned the nuts and shared it with their relatives and acquaintances. While cleaning the nuts they used to narrate the story of “Chaharshanba nuts” which is about a bush digger. Nowadays the Chaharshnba suri nut is not an oblation anymore. Providing bushes, burning them and jumping over them while singing “My yellowness is yours/ your redness is mine” are probably the most significant traditions of Chaharshanba suri. Although during recent years this nice tradition is taken place by fireworks and using dangerous blowing materials.

Breaking pots tradition

After setting bonfires are finished, people put some charcoal as a sign of misery, some salt for evil eye and an unworthy coin for poverty in a pot. Each member of the family rotates the pot around their heads and the last person takes the pot to the roof and throws it to the alley and says “I threw the pains and problems of the house to the alley.” They believed that by throwing it away, misery and poverty would be away from the house. It is also said that when Mithraism, an ancient Iranian religion, was spread throughout the world, Rome and lots of other European countries celebrated December 21 (Azar30) as Mithra’s birthday. But later in the fourth century they calculated the leap year wrongly so they celebrated December 25.


The girls who wish to marry or go on a trip or pilgrimage intend their wishes in the evening of Chaharshanba suri. They go out of the house and stand on the junctions or passages and listen to what people say. If they hear something cheerful and satisfactory, they find it as a sign of their wish coming true but if they hear sad words it means that the wish is not going to come true that year.
Other interesting traditions in Chaharshnba suri include: the pearl cannon, eavesdropping, oblation broth, pouring water, said of the girls to marry, avoiding evil eyes, and telling fortune.

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