The celebration of Chaharshanbe (Wednesday) Soori, is part of the Nowruz festivity. On the night of the last Wednesday of the last month of the year, Iranian have this celebration with fire being the highlight of the whole night. Here, we want to discuss the history and traditions of this night.
The History of Chaharshanbe Soori
Chaharshanbe Soori literary means the Wednesday Celebration, and as it was mentioned, it is the celebration of the last Wednesday of the year. However interestingly, people celebrate it on Tuesday night and not Wednesday itself. Why? Well it’s all because of the influence of Islam and Islamic traditions. Many of Islamic Eids are celebrated one day before the actual event. It happens for this very tradition too and following the Islamic examples, people began celebrating it one day before. Besides, Muslims considered Wednesday unlucky and following that Iranian chose this day for celebration to somehow bring back the luck. In reality, Chaharshanbe Soori makes it easy to see the influence of Islam on the Iranian tradition.
Naturally, this celebration is not as ancient as other traditions like Nowruz. We have festivities celebrating fire in Sassanid time, but not like what we know today as Chaharshanbe Soori. Actually the earliest traces of it goes back to the first few decades of Islam in Iran. Slowly, the celebration of fire as a Zoroastrian element turns to a full event celebrated universally by Iranian. The night includes many traditions, some are still popular and some forgotten, some are performed universally and some only in the small villages. Let’s know more about Chaharshanbe Soori traditions.
The Traditions of Chaharshanbe Soori
Setting up Fire
As it was discussed, the highlight of the night is fire. Regardless of the place, all the Iranian celebrate Chaharshanbe Soori with making something like a campfire. Depending on how much space they have, the fire can be small or big. The idea is to jump over it while singing “your redness is mine, my yellowness is yours”. Here, red is a representation of health and goodness and yellow means sickness and weakness. All the members of the family, even children should jump over the fire to get rid of all that is negative and regain all that is positive. Naturally, the parents would help the children jump and there is nothing to worry.
Qashoq Zani (Trick or Treat)
It is not exactly like the trick or treat of Halloween, however, it has a similar concept. As part of the night, people wear light colored veils covering their body and face. Then, they go door to door, carrying a bowel and a spoon. They are not allowed to say anything. They will ring the bell while hitting the bowel with spoon waiting for the house owner. The house owner will bring cookies, nuts, or other edibles and give it to them. This tradition wants to emphasis helping others without knowing who the needy person is.
Another tradition that is seldom performed now is Falgoosh of Eavesdropping. People (usually young ladies) who had a wish, or were dubious about a decision, would go out and hid in a corner. Then, they would listen to the passersby interpreting the random talk in regard to their wish or decision. It is like depending on luck and random talks to help you decide.
At the end of the night, around midnight, people would go to the roof and throw earthenware jugs filled with water and some coins to the street. They wanted to scare the demons and throw away negativity. Considering that most houses are now apartments and throwing things from height are a little dangerous, this tradition is no longer performed. At least not in the big cities.
These are the most common traditions of Chaharshanbe Soori. Of course, people of each region of Iran have their own customs that might differ with other places. It is still one of the most fun events in Iran that children are especially fond of.