While I will always be a summer girl at heart, I love spring. Spring is the time of renewal and rebirth, of freshness and blossoming. It’s also the chunk of time with my favorite parts of the year: Miracle Month, my birthday, Coachella, Nowrouz (Persian New Year), (formerly) Spring Break, etc. Nowrouz is always a big part of my spring, and I look forward to it every single year.
Nowrouz FaceTime calls with my dad, cousins, Jahan, Paymon and Reza (not shown), uncle, Amir and friend, Zoe.
The Persian calendar runs on the lunar calendar, so the first day of spring marks the first day of the New Year. As an Iranian-American, I love recognizing and celebrating Nowrouz as a sort of second opportunity to refresh my New Year’s Resolutions(but I’ve been keeping up with mine this year!!!). It’s also a chance to get together with family and friends and eat some DANK food (you may have also heard that we do New Year’s better than anyone else).
I’ve been feeling anxious about Nowrouz this year in a way I haven’t before. Growing up, my family celebrated with bangers or huge dinner parties with our friends and relatives. In college, I would celebrate with my cousins or my Persian friends in LA. Even when I studied abroad in London, my brother was also studying there and we spent the day together. Last year, I celebrated with the other students in my Farsi class at USC during an (unexpectedly extra!) celebration hosted by our professor. But now, I’m living across the country from my family and up the West Coast from my close Persian friends. Not to mention, San Francisco doesn’t have a massive Persian community to tap into like LA, so this year feels a bit weird to me.
Nowrouz is as special a time to me and the Persian community as Christmas is to many (here’s a TLDR about the festivities). I take immense pride in being Iranian (I rarely jump at the opportunity to tell people I’m also Italian). The traditions I grew up on are those I hold close to my heart and hope to pass on to my children. I think my uneasiness comes from the worry that I won’t be able to celebrate this special time with anyone. Also, last year was super difficult because of our asshole president and the political climate at the time (remember that Muslim ban??).
I will always remember running around as a child with my best friends and my cousins at our country club during the annual Nowrouz party. I will always remember my dad setting up our haf seen and wondering how long our goldfish would last this year. I will always remember getting eide (cash) from my relatives, which sometimes came in $2 bills. I will always remember filling plate after plate with all of my favorite rices and stews. I will always remember my dad’s pure joy in watching President Obama’s eight annual videos (how cute is his first one!!!) wishing the Iranian people an Eide Shoma Mobarak (Happy New Year in Farsi). (Also, here’s an amazing tidbit from Michelle Obama from the White House Nowrouz celebration in 2015 -- the Trumps could never!!!).
Our backgrounds and cultures make us who we are. I could not imagine what my upbringing would have been like if I weren’t Persian. I think almost anyone could say this about their family’s history and origins as well. I want to be able to introduce my friends who aren’t familiar with this world to all of my favorite parts. I feel like there is truly something special in being Persian, and it is for very reason that I have become the woman I am today.
The usual spread at Nowrouz dinner at my parents' house
This year for Nowrouz, I hope to spend the day reflecting on the year ahead but also the year behind. I want to use this as a time to recenter and refocus, to relax and eat all the fesenjoon and tadiq I can. What I think I will learn most from this year is that sometimes you’ll have to spend these special moments and holidays away from those you usually spend them with, but that’s all part of growing up. I’m hoping to rally my friends up here to join me in feasting on all my favorite Persian dishes. I am excited to blossom this Spring, and I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.