Dive into the Culture & Traditions of Iran
On one bonfire, a great pot of special soup ofChaharshanbe soori(Ash-e Chaharshnabe Suri) was cooking. From the oldest member of the family to the youngest one, we were so grateful for the fire jumping celebration as it brought us together happily. I was so lucky to have such lovely people around myself this night.
Details You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip
Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire is held by Iranian people on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz festival (the Iranian new year and the first day of spring) in different parts of Iran. For welcome to the new year, Iranians light up a bonfire to have happiness and enlightenment throughout the coming year.
- Kind: Traditional Iranian festival
- Location: All over Iran
- Dates: The eve of last Wednesday before Nowruz
History of the Festival Through Ancient Stories
Chaharshanbe Suri history belongs to many years ago. Most historians believe it is originated from the festival of Hamaspathmaedaya, which was held in the last five days of the year in honor of the dead souls. The bonfires were lit up to welcome the spirit of the dead. They thought that flames, as a sign of God, can protect the departed souls from evil. That’s why people celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri.
The name of the festival, Chaharshanbe Soori, consists of Chaharshanbe (means Wednesday) and Soori (means festive or redness)
After many years, this festival mixed with other religions and cultures, and it changed to its present form. In big cities, it is turned to unsafe fireworks. You might hear the sound of little explosions from here and there in big cities like Tehran. Youngers prefer to mix the ChaharshanbeSoori festival with thrill. So, they celebrate Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire by lighting the firecrackers up. But many people still keep their traditions alive and organize the ChaharshanbeSoori celebration that stays loyal to their traditional rituals.
But why do Persians jump over the fire?
Our ancestors believed that the fire is the sign of pureness, and it clears darkness. They lit up fires in Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire to get weakness away from themselves and bring the strength and pureness of the fire in the coming Nowruz(Iranian new year).
Culture and Ambience of This Festival
Getting ready for Chaharshanbe Suri, the festival of fire starts before sunset. Young men and women on the evening breeze, begin to gather woods.
While youngers are out, elders of the family prepare special soup for Chaharshanbe Soori(Ash). Ash is a favorite food in Iran which Iranian mothers are the best in cooking it. Everyone thinks his/her mother cooks the best Ash.
After a while, they come back with the brush woods, as they are excited for the coming night. They make seven bonfires in the yard, some of them are larger, and some of them are smaller for the kids.
The sun is going down. The bonfires are ready for lighting up. The smell of Ash is filling the air. It seems everything is ready for an unforgettable fire jumping celebration.
The pleasure of fire on a crisp night is indescribable. Some jump over seven bonfires while singing a song and wish to take the warmth and strength of the fire and give their weaknesses to the fire. Jumping over bonfires is an exciting play for kids who loves to do the same as their parents.
Elder’s eyes are shining as they see their children are enjoying this night together. Mother has made special snacks for Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire.
Now it’s the turn of the kids’ favorite tradition: spoon banging. It’s like trick-or-treating in Halloween. Kids (and sometimes adults!) cover themselves and go door to door and hit the spoon against a plate or bowl to receive candy or dried nuts.
More Magical Stories from Previous Participants of the Festival
I remembered it from my childhood. When the cities were not as busy as now. We gathered together a lot, and one of these assemblies was forChaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire.
I can remember my relatives came from everywhere to our house to celebrate Chaharshanbe Sooritogether, and only this night, my cousins and I were allowed to light up our bonfires.
From a few days ahead, my mom was preparing food and snack for that night. Tuesday afternoon, when our relatives arrived group by group, she gave other kids and me Ajil (dried nuts) and we go out to play.
There was a competition between the kids, and everyone who gathered more brushwood was the winner. I cannot forget how excited I was for making everything ready for the celebration.
When the sun went down, my dad lit up the bonfires in the street, and my cousins and I jumped over the fires while we were singing a traditional song. Even now, I can hear our sound!
Everyone was singing around fire happily, and we, kids, took our spoons and plates to go for spoon banging. We went door by door to ask our neighbors and friends for candy or Ajil. I can remember my cousin couldn’t keep his Ajil and he ate all of it on the way.
It was near spring, so the trees blossomed. I can hear the gentle tweet of a bird. The young men of the village were gathering woods to set up a massive fire. Before the sunset, they gathered a large amount of woods on the highest hill of the village. As the men were lighting the fire up, a cold breeze was wafting us. The view from the top of the hill was indescribable. Green plains were like a large green velvet. Moreover, many young girls and women with colorful dresses were so astonishing.
Suddenly, I heard the large fire is roaring. The fire’s roar lost in the sound of the joyful traditional horn. The girls and boys were dancing traditionally around the fire. I’ve never seen such a colorful and happy scene in my life.
After that, they went one by one to the large fire to light up their torches, and then each torch becomes a bonfire. They jumped over the fire hand in hand as they were singing a song and wishing for a blessed new year.
After dancing and jumping, all people started to throw their clay pots off from the roofs. The pots were shattering to bits in a strange harmony. Throwing things off from a roof together feels very great! However, all traditions have a reason behind them. Historically Iranians threw away their old clay pots because they were not washable and after some time, they needed to get rid of them. Therefore, they found a fun way to do it during a celebration.
I always want to repeat my experience and say hello to the spring with this kind of people.
What Makes This Festival Special and Unique?
- Getting in touch with traditional Iranian festivals by participating in this gathering.
- Singing and dancing around the fire together.
- Tasting delicious Persian foods and especially Chaharshanbe Soorifoods.
- The opportunity of communication with local communities in a traditional ceremonial family gathering on fire jumping celebration.
Why Do We Care?
Keeping traditional Iranian festivals alive
Introducing Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire to the world and attracting foreign travelers to this festival
Creating a Unique Experience for Travelers
Experiencing an immersive journey through interacting with locals and experiencing the joy of having a night full of laughter and song with local assemblies.
Changing Iran’s Global image
Promoting Iran’s attractive festivals and places so the worldwide audiences get to know that Iran is different from the mainstream media portrayal of this country.
Why Take a Tour?
- Location: Although Chaharshanbe Sooriis celebrated in public, celebrating this ceremony among a family can give you the opportunity of getting in touch with locals more. For being in an Iranian family house, you need an invitation. We prepare it for you beforehand. Moreover, this traditional celebration has changed over time and even some new celebrations aren’t safe. But we know celebrations have kept their traditional form.
- Guide: A local guide can improve travelers’ experience. He/she knows the local culture, language, and history. Furthermore, she/he helps you to experience this night like a local. The guide can find you places in which Chaharshanbe Sooriis celebrated traditionally. Moreover, the guide can define the reasons and meanings of different parts of the ceremony.
- Etiquette: Chaharshanbe Suri the festival of fire is a family celebration. So, travelers need to learn the dress code, the traditions, and the culture of the Iranian people. Some traditions came to Iranians from their ancestors, so they respect these traditions. As a Iran responsible traveler, it’s better to learn the traditions to participate in the festival in the most respectful way for the local community. We will have conversations and discussions around Iranian etiquettes beforehand.