When is Chaharshanbe Suri?
Spring is on the corner, and Iranians are going to prepare themselves for the New Year (Nowruz). But before entering the New Year, it is better to say goodbye to the pain and let go of all the dark days in our winter life.
There is an ancient ritual celebrating on the evening of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year, which is called Chaharshanbe Suri, which literally means Red Wednesday. It is a fire jumping festival, and nowadays, it is mixed with heavy fireworks.
What is Chaharshanbe Suri?
The celebration usually starts in the evening, people making bonfires in the streets and jumping over them saying the mantra of “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man,” literally means ‘My sickly yellow paleness is yours; your fiery red color is mine.
This is a purification rite. It is similar to the Malenestia festival in Russia to say goodbye to the cold, dark winter.
What are the traditions of Chaharshanbe Suri?
Moreover, Red Wednesday is not completed without the Ghashogh Zani or spoon-banging ritual, which seems to be an ancestor of trick-or-treating in modern Halloween celebrations. Young women wrap themselves into a chador and then, while banging a spoon against a bowl, stand at neighbors’ doors, where the house owner fills their bowls with some Ajils (nuts). A person who receives nothing is believed to expect an unfortunate year. Sometimes, boys wear a chador and do this for fun.
Fal-Gush neshini (literally means eavesdropping) is another custom done by girls who wish to find a husband or have any other desire to fulfill in the New Year. They go out of the house into the streets, hide behind a wall, and listen to the conversations of strangers walking on the streets. Their wishes come true, whether what is overheard is positive or optimistic.
Like most traditions, only the name of rituals remains. Instead, various kinds of firecrackers have become part of the celebrations. Unfortunately, every year, some people are hurt and hospitalized by the fireworks. This Festival is still the most important national festival for Iranians worldwide.