Iran’s Festivals & Events as Tourist Attractions
Nowruz meaning “New Day” is a festival which dates back 3000 years to when King Jamshed called astrologers and declared that the 21st March, the day that the sun leaves Pisces, the twelfth sign of zodiac, and enters into Aries, the very first zodiac sign, would be the day when his kingdom would celebrate New Year. It has been celebrated with happiness and fervor ever since. It starts on March 20 and is considered the most important holiday in Iran. Festivities take place over 12 days and usually involve visiting of relatives and friends.
It is the starting day of Spring. Every year before the new year, on the last days of the year before, people are busy with spring cleaning all over their houses and renovating. They buy new clothes, and finally, at the moment of entering the New Year (it could be early in the morning, at night, in the afternoon or …. ) all the family are well dressed, ready at the 7Sin TABLE. (They have seven special things starting with the sound “S” on a tablecloth on the ground or a table, each represents something and has a special meaning).
At the end of the Nowruz holiday on the 13th day, people have a ceremony named Sizdah be dar. Sizdah is the Persian name for 13 and Sizdah be dar means keeping the bad luck of 13 away. In Iranian culture, the number 13 is a negative number with bad luck. Iranians go to a natural place such as a park, jungle, and mountain to keep bad luck away from their homes. The young people especially girls tie grasses and wish to get married in the following year, and the elder people take their time to talk and barbecue. Visiting Iran at this time of year gives you the chance to experience these customs and ceremonies in person. In addition, Iran’s nature and cities are spectacular during these days of spring.
Fajr International Film Festival
The Fajr International Film Festival is Iran’s annual film festival which is held every February in Tehran, Iran. The festival started in 1982, is under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran. It takes place every year on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.
The festival has been broadcasted both locally and abroad through television, radio, and webinars. Contributing organizations to the event include the Farabi Cinema Foundation, Iran film foundation, Press TV, HispanTV and Iran’s multi-lingual film channel IFilm (TV channel). From 2015 on, the festival has been separated to a national festival in February and an international one in April, with the national one being the more notable for premiers of the most important domestic movies.
Rosewater Extraction Festival
The annual festivals of Rosewater are being held since 2500 years ago in the spring season in different cities of Iran such as Qamsar and Niyasar in Kashan, Meymand in Shiraz and Laleh Zar in Kerman. The date is varied every year and depends on when the weather is getting warm and the Rose flowers become florescent to be picked up but we expect it at the end of April or at the beginning of May for one month based on our years’ experiences.
The colorful and sweet-smelling festival includes flower-picking by women and men in the early morning in the gardens and you can meet groups of people with medieval clothing and carrying out various activities like drinking or handcrafting. These traditional festivals provide an opportunity for tourists to participate in Rosewater production.
Tehran International Book Fair
The Tehran Book Fair is one of the leading publishing events in the region. It takes place annually in May or June and attracts roughly five million visitors and thousands of domestic and international publishers. It is one of the pre-eminent book events in the Middle East and Asia and usually takes place on the Grand Prayer Grounds in Tehran, a special venue for visitors to pick up rare and out-of-print literature.
Muharram & Ashura
Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar is a somber event marking the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of the Shia Muslims. An occasion when people gather in mosques and mausoleums to mourn the Holy Imam and all those who were martyred with him in Kerbala, Iraq. Dressed in black, people beat their chests and lament the tragedy of Kerbala while clerics narrate instances from the tragedy. Aashura, the 10th day of Muharram, the day of martyrdom is marked by rallies and processions of mourners.
The event includes mourning. A lot of people cook a large number of different foods or prepare drinks and give it to people(Nazri). Following the customs, on this day and night numbers of people get together, making a large group, start mourning and walking in the streets from different neighborhood and old places like the traditional and central bazaar in different cities. People in various Iranian cities, particularly the central city of Yazd, annually perform the ‘Nakhl-Gardani’ ritual on Ashura to simulate the funeral ceremony of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein.
In Persian culture and belief, pomegranate is considered to be a sacred fruit and a fruit originated from paradise. Called “Anar” in Persian, Iranians for long believed the fruit purifies the blood. Anar is an ever-present part of many Iranian special events such as national celebrations and festivals. One of the most important Iranian festivals is Yalda, the longest night of the year. Yalda has been observed since the ancient times in Iran.
we have pomegranate festivals in autumn when the fruit is in season. In this festival, many different types of the fruit are displayed and numerous byproducts of pomegranate are introduced. There are different kinds of pomegranates based on the color of the seeds, the taste and even the color of the skin. One of the widely used byproducts of the fruit is the paste as a major ingredient in one of the most popular Iranian dish called “Fesenjan”. Lavashak or fruit roll made of pomegranate juice is also a very popular snack. There are many chain stores offering fresh pomegranate juice and other products of pomegranate such as ice cream and jelly in almost every major city in Iran.
Iranian Saffron is worldwide famous and there is no wonder that it has so many fan and followers all over the world. It gives meaning to Aroma, Flavor and its Fiery Red color is admirable. Saffron harvest began in Iran mid-October and will peak between late October and early November.
Saffron Usage in Iran: The red gold, Saffron is used constantly in Persian cuisine and culinary, it plays the main role in delicious Persian food and sweet recipes. This expensive flower thread is used in dying woolen for Iranian Carpets, Persian Rugs, and Yarns. In Iran, Saffron is grown mostly in Khorasan and Fars province, in a few scales it is also grown in Qom and Esfahan. You can find, the highest quality of Saffron in Ghaenat (Qaenat) in Khorasan Province and also Estahban in Fars Province.
Yalda night is the longest night of the year, though it may be less than one minute longer, that is annually celebrated as one of the social gatherings and is an excuse for the families to come together during this night. Yalda and Shab-e Cheleh in Persian is celebrated on the evening before the first day of the winter (December 21-22) in the Iranian calendar, which falls in the winter and forty days before the next major Persian festival “Jashn-e Sadeh (fire festival)”.
Today “Shab-e Cheleh” (Fortieth Night) is only a social occasion when families and friends get together for fun and happiness. Shab-e Yalda is the longest and darkest night of the year, it has come to symbolize many things in Persian poetry; separation from a loved one, loneliness and waiting. After Shab-e Yalda a transformation takes place – the waiting is over, light shines and goodness prevails.
Some of the activities on the agenda for the Yalda night event include:
- Visiting the grandfather or the eldest person in the family
- Reciting poetry, reading epic stories especially from Shahnameh (the book of legendary and epic poetry by Ferdowsi) and finally
- Playing Persian classical music
Chaharshanbe Suri: The Persian Festival Of Fire
”If Nowruz is the equivalent of Easter, Chaharshanbe Suri, in many ways is the equivalent of Halloween”
On the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian solar year, known as Chaharshanbe Suri or the Persian Festival of Fire, special customs and rituals take place in which everyone particularly children eagerly participate. The term Chaharshanbe Suri (چهارشنبه سوری) is made of two words meaning Wednesday and celebrations/red respectively, where young and old gather around and jump over fires that stay burning all night. These bonfires symbolize kindness, friendship, and light. Undoubtedly Chaharshanbeh Suri is one of the most popular ways to welcome Nowruz. Most notably, during this night Iranians build numerous public bonfires in the streets and jump over them. A few days before the celebrations, communities in rural areas gather tinders and twigs, and in cities many purchase firewood and firecrackers. Celebrations start early in the evening and continue all night. As participants jump over the fires they chant “Zardi-e man az to, Sorkhi-e to az man”
“زردی من از تو، سرخی تو از من “
meaning “give me your red color and take back my sickly pallor”. This tune is sung to dispose of sickness and difficulties and to replace that with health, wealth, and happiness for the year to come.