“Chaharshanbe Suri,” or “Red Wednesday,” marks the eve of the last Wednesday of the Solar calendar right before Persian New year and vernal equinox. The festival is a warm welcome to Nowruz, Persian New Year, and it is celebrated on Tuesday night by jumping over bonfires in hope of cleaning themselves of all the misfortunes, bad spirits and impurities of the past year and get ready to welcome the coming New Year and wish for enlightenment and happiness.
Chaharshanbe means Wednesday and Suri means both ‘Red’ and ‘Celebration’. On “Red Wednesday” or “Wednesday Celebration” night people go out and make bush fires and jump over them. Fire is the symbol of good health, cultivation, light, and purity to the Iranian. This is symbolic of burning pain, unhappiness, and sickness in search of good health, cultivation, light, and purity. Some believe their ancestors’ spirits visit during the last few days of the year. Chaharshanbe Suri, in many ways is the equivalent of Halloween.
There are several rituals and routines performing in the Chaharshanbe Suri, which make the festival a richer perspective. Some of the most important ones are listed here:
Jumping Over Fire
پریدن از آتش
On the eve before the last Wednesday, Iranians get together and make bone fire through out the streets, alleys, and inside backyards or gardens and jump over the fire and sing:
سرخی تو از من
(Sorkhi-e to az man) Give me your beautiful red color
زردی من از تو
(Zardi-e man az to) And take back my sickly pallor!
Aajeel-e Charshanb-e Suri
آجیل چهارشنبه سوری
People make wishes and in order to make them come true, they prepare the following food and snacks and distribute them on this night at the gatherings or to people passing by.
a. آش چهارشنبه سوری ash-e Chahar Shanbe Suri Noodle Soup
b. آجیل چهارشنبه سوری ajeel-e Chahar Shanbe Suri A Mixture of Seven Dried Nuts and Fruits,(pistachios, roasted chickpeas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins)
Qaashoq Zani is a Celtic variation of Halloween with a history way older than Halloween. There are some other rituals connected to the festival that have almost disappeared nowadays like Qaashoq Zani. Youths cover their face and body with a veil چادر “chaador” and go to neighbors’ houses and make a noise by hitting a bowl with a spoon called Gashog-Zani while they knock on doors to ask for treats. The household presents them with treats such as nuts betokens a positive omen. Indeed, Halloween is a Celtic variation of this night.
Click on the following link to learn more about Charshanbe Suri with Persian Movies and complete online activities and assessments.
Comment below and share with us what is your favorite Chaharshanbe Suri ritual.