Chahar Shanbeh Soori: The Bonfire


The Nowrouz holiday season includes several symbolic and meaningful celebrations and rituals begining with the last Wednesday of the year, called the Chahar Shanbeh Soori (translation yields "Wednesday Fire").

 On Tuesday evening (the night before the last Wednesday) every family celebrates the Chahar Shanbeh Soori. At the center of this traditional celebration is giving thanks for the fortune of having made it through another healthy year and to exchange any remaining paleness and evil with the life and warmth of the fire. Chahar Shanbeh Soori is deeply rooted in Iranians' Zoroastrian past (Persian people's dominant religion prior to Islam). The part of this night especially popular with the youngsters is the bonfire. Every family gathers several piles of wood or brush to be lit shortly after the sunset.

All family members line up and take turns jumping safely along (and over) the burning piles, singing to the fire:

  "Sorkheeyeh toe az man; zardeeyeh man az toe."

This translates to:

  "Your redness (health) is mine; my paleness (pain) is yours."

Although a recent addition and generally against the law in the urban areas, the sights and sounds of fireworks are very common to this night.

In order to make wishes come true, it is customary to prepare special foods and distribute them on this night. Noodle Soup a filled Persian delight, and mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits, pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins.