Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nawruz (originally written on March 22nd but posted late!)

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Oh, spring has sprung—despite the mini cold snap that we’re facing this week. (Highs in the mid-60s! Heavens!) The clearest sign of spring (apart from the flowers blooming everywhere and blessedly long days) was a party that I went to last week. My friend D from Iran had a lovely gathering in her apartment last Saturday night to celebrary Nawruz, or Persian New Year. Her instructions (sent by text) were to arrive at her house by 7. Unfortunately, I missed the bus to Beirut (by 15 stinkin’ seconds!) and got there closer to 9. The sight that greeted me in D’s cozy, warm apartment was this:

Nawruz is celebrated every year when the earth is in a specific position in its revolution around the sun. This year, we reached that position at exactly 7:32 p.m and 13 seconds—a much more interesting New Year’s countdown than just plain old midnight. I missed the countdown (which the party followed via streaming radio from Iran) but apparently once the clock struck 19:32:13, everyone popped balloons and ate food from the specially prepared table. All of the foods and objects on the table begin with an “s” in Farsi—grass (or at least something green and growing, represented by the pineapple top) honey, oil, cookies, nuts (especially pistachios—yum!), and garlic. It was quite a feast, much of it brought from Tehran by D’s brother, who is visiting this week.

After some of the guests left, they served Koukou (made by D’s grandmother), an Iranian take on the Tortilla EspaƱola, but even more delicious: imagine a frittata with spinach, parsley, and other greens.

I understand why we celebrate our New Year at the first hint of the returning of the light—sometimes that first glimmer in the darkness is enough to sustain us and put us in a celebratory mood. But with Nawruz, the light is almost fully back, the flowers are in bloom, and the whole world (not just the light) is new for the New Year.

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