NORUZ: Like Halloween

The first day of spring traditionally marks the beginning New Years in Iran and Persian communities around the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

We’re listening to folks setting off firecrackers in Tustin, California as part of the local celebration of Noruz. Babak Sotoodeh is a participant in the festivities.

“Usually the celebrations start with something called Shahar Chama Souri, which is the Wednesday celebration. And it actually starts the last Tuesday night of the Persian year. The celebration is something I call a combination of Halloween and Fourth of July.”

According to Mr. Sotoodeh, on the last Tuesday evening of the old year, the kids put a cloth or a sheet over their heads and knock on their neighbors’ doors. When the neighbor opens the door, he or she must tell the children a good story. If they don’t have a tale to tell, or if the children aren’t satisfied with the story, well then the neighbor gets to hand over some goodies.

“These goodies are traditionally dried fruit and nuts, something like a trail mix. After that’s done, sometimes they make bonfires, or they certainly make small fires that people jump over. Then they use firecrackers. They make alot of noise and alot of kids enjoy it, jump around for fun.”

Traditionally, Noruz celebrants jump over fires as a way of purifying themselves of evil or sickness. The ritual can be traced back to the belief that goodness isn’t affected by fire, but evil and sickness are.

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.

NORUZ: Like Halloween

For some, the events surrounding the Persian New Year seem almost like a blend of Halloween and the Fourth of July.
Air Date:03/14/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

The first day of spring traditionally marks the beginning New Years in Iran and Persian communities around the world. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

We're listening to folks setting off firecrackers in Tustin, California as part of the local celebration of Noruz. Babak Sotoodeh is a participant in the festivities.

"Usually the celebrations start with something called Shahar Chama Souri, which is the Wednesday celebration. And it actually starts the last Tuesday night of the Persian year. The celebration is something I call a combination of Halloween and Fourth of July."

According to Mr. Sotoodeh, on the last Tuesday evening of the old year, the kids put a cloth or a sheet over their heads and knock on their neighbors' doors. When the neighbor opens the door, he or she must tell the children a good story. If they don't have a tale to tell, or if the children aren't satisfied with the story, well then the neighbor gets to hand over some goodies.

"These goodies are traditionally dried fruit and nuts, something like a trail mix. After that's done, sometimes they make bonfires, or they certainly make small fires that people jump over. Then they use firecrackers. They make alot of noise and alot of kids enjoy it, jump around for fun."

Traditionally, Noruz celebrants jump over fires as a way of purifying themselves of evil or sickness. The ritual can be traced back to the belief that goodness isn't affected by fire, but evil and sickness are.

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.