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    An Iranian Holiday That’s Perfect for Americans - The New York Times

    Iran - An Iranian Holiday That’s Perfect for Americans - The New York Times


    An Iranian Holiday That’s Perfect for Americans - The New York Times
    Publish Date: MARCH 18, 2017

    LOS ANGELES — As a little girl in Iran, I loved Nowruz, the first day of spring, known as the Persian New Year. It was the only time when grown-ups seemed joyful and full of hope. Even my most morose relatives somehow came to life, revealing a sunnier side of themselves kept dormant during the rest of the year. It was like the movie “Cocoon,” except that people were rejuvenated by the arrival of spring, not aliens.

    For me, Nowruz meant getting dressed up and going to the home of every grandparent, great-aunt, aunt, almost-like-an-aunt, uncle and cousin. According to tradition, relatives were visited in order of age, starting with the oldest. I ate sweets, drank tea and listened to the adults speak of their hope for the new year, which began at the precise moment of the spring equinox. The scent of hyacinths, the flower of Nowruz, permeated every living room. (I tell you now, there is nothing not to like about Nowruz. It is the Justin Trudeau of holidays.)

    Every home also had a haft sin, a colorful display of seven symbolic items meant to bring health, wealth and love. It included sprouted grains, such as lentils, that represented rebirth. The grains were prepared in advance, and the pressure was on to have a thick, healthy plate of grass by Nowruz. Nowadays, there are tutorials on YouTube, but back then, certain relatives were admired for their ability to know when and how to prepare the grains. If the grains sprouted too soon, you had moldy grass; if they sprouted too late, you had anemic blades with bald spots. The stakes were high.

    But my favorite part of the haft sin was the goldfish, symbols of life. As with most pet-deprived Iranian children, these goldfish were as close as I ever got to owning a pet. I had once seen a movie about Lassie and knew that goldfish were poor substitutes for a loyal pet that could save you if you fell in a well. Nonetheless, I spent hours watching the tiny fish glide in circles, praying that they would not be floating belly up the next day. The goldfish may have represented life, but to me, they also represented disappointment.


    We moved to America in 1972 and soon discovered that being the only Iranians in town did not make for much of a Nowruz celebration. My parents were not particularly festive to begin with (“Everyone has a birthday. No need to make a big deal”). But it was especially challenging to feel excitement for a celebration that fell on a Tuesday between a dentist appointment and basketball practice.

    No one in America cared about the first day of spring. This most revered moment in the Iranian year meant literally nothing here. We had no relatives to visit, so Nowruz was withered down to one essential element: calling our relatives in Iran. In the early 1970s, this was a very expensive venture. At the sound of her family’s voices, my mother always started to cry, leading my practical engineer father to suggest that she should try crying before the phone calls so that we didn’t have to pay for it. (Note to husbands: Do not suggest this.)

    In the early ’80s, many Iranians arrived in the United States. Their hearts brimmed with gratitude and trepidation as they tried to navigate this new land while clinging to fragments of their past. They brought with them recipes, music and tradition. Nowruz slowly came back to life for my parents. Banners showed up in Los Angeles wishing everyone a Happy Nowruz. Some politicians even made a point of offering Nowruz greetings. My mother started setting a haft sin again.

    Then came 2017, and one night, while lamenting the deeply divided nature of this country, I had an epiphany. Every immigrant group has given something to this country, and we Iranians are here to present you, dear America, with Nowruz. Here is a holiday that asks only one thing of you — to have hope. It has been around for thousands of years. There is no controversy associated with Nowruz. No indigenous people were displaced, no wars were fought, and no one died for us to have this celebration. Unless winter comes up with some sordid revelation about spring, we are in the clear. While it is true that Nowruz has its origins in Zoroastrianism, one of the first monotheistic religions, who is going to argue with a religion whose maxim is “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds”?

    So America, please find an Iranian and, for a moment, forget about the headlines that divide us. Ask about Nowruz. You will probably be offered homemade baklava or a chickpea cookie. Please do try the chickpea cookies. They may sound strange to you, but rum balls didn’t sound all that good to me, either. And while you are wondering why the cookies melt so quickly in your mouth (it’s the chickpea flour), let’s talk. You might be surprised to find out that we have more in common than you think. That should give us all hope.



    About Us

    The word Persia gives the image of a magical and mysterious land of far away and long ago, of ancient monuments and beautiful works of art – carpets, tiles, fine ceramics and miniatures. It also reminds us of legendary and tragic love stories and epic poems about great wars. And Persia is indeed a world ancient and contemporary, a bridge between heaven and earth. We want to show you around. Discover things to do on your next trip to Iran and plan a trip of your lifetime. Yes, it is that easy! This website gives you the tools to plan your trip to Iran: detailed information on destinations; inspiring ideas on what to see and do in each city; where to stay; where to eat; travel guides and let’s say everything you need so you can dream up a trip to Iran.


    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.