Sizdah Be-dar

Sizdah Be-dar: Embracing Nature and Renewal in Persian Tradition

Sizdah Be-dar (سیزده‌ به‌در), also known as Nature Day, is an Iranian festival held annually on April 13th, which corresponds to the 13th day of Farvardin in the Iranian calendar. It marks the end of the Nowruz holidays, the Persian New Year, celebrated for over two weeks. On this day, it is customary for people to spend time outdoors, enjoying picnics and natural settings with family and friends. The tradition stems from the ancient Iranian practice of “Zurkhaneh,” a form of physical training and a spiritual ritual, which symbolizes the expulsion of evil and the welcoming of the new year’s blessings and joy.

A significant ritual performed on Sizdah Be-dar involves the knotting of greenery, specifically the sprouts (Sabzeh) grown for Nowruz, while making a wish. This is followed by the sprouts being thrown into running water, symbolizing the removal of bad luck and the embodiment of hopes for the coming year. Sizdah Be-dar emphasizes the importance of nature in Persian culture and promotes the concepts of life, renewal, and the bond between humans and the natural environment.

Key Traditions of Sizdah Be-dar

Releasing sprouted greens back into nature

To mark the end of Nowruz celebrations, Iranians partake in the custom of releasing sprouted greens into moving water. This act symbolizes the sending away of bad luck and illnesses, and welcoming health, prosperity, and happiness for the coming year.

Greenery (Sabze) for Haft-Seen

Preparing and displaying greenery, or Sabze, is a crucial part of the Haft-Seen table for Nowruz. For Sizdah Be-dar, this greenery is taken outdoors and eventually released into nature, symbolizing the rebirth and renewal that spring brings.

Special lunch 13 Be-dar

Families prepare a special picnic or outdoor lunch to celebrate Sizdah Be-dar. This meal, enjoyed in the heart of nature, embodies the essence of the day—celebrating life, joy, and the beauty of the outdoors.

Knotting the greens

A tradition especially popular among young singles, who tie knots in the sprouts while making a wish, typically for love and happiness. This act is steeped in symbolism, representing the tying of one’s fate to the forces of nature and destiny.

Lie of the Thirteen

Similar to April Fools’ Day, the Lie of the Thirteen involves playing pranks and telling jokes. This light-hearted tradition adds a sense of fun and whimsy to the day, reflecting the joy and celebration of the season.

Best Food for Sizdah Be-dar

Sekanjabin and lettuce

Sekanjabin, a traditional Persian syrup made from vinegar and honey, often served with lettuce, is a staple of Sizdah Be-dar. This refreshing combination is consumed on this day as a symbol of good health in the New Year.

Ash-e Doogh

Ash-e doogh, or yogurt soup, is a traditional soup from the Azeri region of northwest Iran. It is particularly popular on Sizdah Be-dar, enjoyed for its refreshing taste and as a part of the day’s celebration of Iranian culture and heritage.

Other Relevant Tips for Observance

Plan a picnic in nature

Embrace the spirit of Sizdah Be-dar by planning a picnic in a local park, garden, or any natural setting. It’s a time to enjoy the outdoors, so bring traditional foods, games, and activities to share with family and friends.

Participate in the greenery rituals

Whether it’s tying knots in sprouts or releasing them into moving water, participating in these rituals can connect you to the cultural and spiritual significance of Sizdah Be-dar, enhancing your experience of the day.

Enjoy traditional Persian music and games

To fully immerse in the celebration, include traditional Persian music in your picnic and engage in games that have been played for generations during this festival, such as badminton, volleyball, or traditional board games.

Prepare traditional foods

Incorporate traditional Sizdah Be-dar foods into your picnic, such as Sekanjabin with lettuce or Ash-e Doogh, to enjoy a taste of Iranian culture and tradition.

Featured image: Wikimedia

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