Traditional event celebrates Iranian New Year

The Persian Cultural Association hosted a traditional fire festival in preparation for the Iranian New Year on the Quad on Tuesday.

“This event is called Chahar-Shanbe Soori,” said Amin Jahromi, graduate student and member of the board for the Persian Cultural Association. “It literally means ‘Red Wednesday.’ It is a prelude to Iranian New Year. Our new year starts on the first day of spring.”

The fire festival always starts on the last Tuesday of the year, Jahromi said.

“Basically, after sunset, we light up fire and then we celebrate it by jumping over the fire, having some food, reading some poems; it’s part of the celebration,” he said.

However, at the Quad event the group did not jump over any fire, he said.

“The fire takes away your paleness and gives some of your life back. It’s a symbolic event celebrating the end of winter and the arrival of the new year,” said Mohammad Sahrapour, graduate student.

The history of the event dates back almost 4000 years, Jahromi said.

David Khatami, graduate student, said there are two folk tales that are often attributed as the source of the celebration. One dates back to the Zoroastrians, who considered fire a “holy element” due to its light, heat, and sanitation properties.

The other folk story involves an ancient Persian king, Jamshid, throwing a rock at a snake and hitting another rock, thus discovering fire, Khatami said.

“It is an interesting tradition, not just for Iranians, but for everyone. Last year, we had it at the Union. Just lighting a fire is a fun activity. Everyone is more energetic after the event. People have fun,” Jahromi said.

Khatami said that the event was a social one, and that most of the people were probably there to spend time with friends.

“This is a good opportunity to share the Persian culture with the community,” Khatami said.

Although the festival celebrates Iranian religion, all people were welcome to enjoy the event and share in the festivities.

“In my opinion, the amazing culture and diversity we have on campus really adds value,” Khatami said.

Sahrapour said the event is shared by all ethnicities and all different religions.

“It’s something that everyone celebrates together. It’s a real fun event for the kids, because they get to jump over a fire at night,” Saharapour said.