Last night was Chaharshanbeh Suri چهارشنبه سوری, Chahar Shanbeh means Wednesday and Suri means light or red (sorkh). The last Wednesday night of the year is celebrated by Persians as a preparation to Norooz (Persian New Year) and the arrival of spring. The night is glorified with distinct symbolic rituals, most notably jumping over fire.
Adults would make bonfires somewhere in the woods or in the streets and people would take turns jumping over them shouting “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”. The literal translation is, my yellow is yours, your red is mine. Loosely translated, this means, you wish the fire would take away your paleness, sickness, or bad omen and in turn give you redness, warmth, and energy. This purification rite goes back to Zoroastrian era (at least 1700 BCE) where fire was believed to burn out all the fear (yellowness) in people’s spirit, in preparation for enlightenment and happiness of the coming year.
Back in Iran, parents would bring Ajeel (mixed nuts, dried fruits and berries) also known as Ajeel-e Moshkel-Goshā (lit. problem-solving nuts), Ash Reshte (thick winter soup with noodles) and different kinds of pastry, as part of the celebration. Of course, since no Persian party is complete without dancing, people would dance around the fire after they’ve all jumped.
At the end of the night kids would run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons and knocking on doors to ask for treats and receiving some of problem-solving Ajeel is customary. The tradition is called ghashogh-zany (spoon beating) and symbolizes the beating out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year wear. Now, I have no clue why all the bad blood between Persians and the last Wednesday, but doesn’t this sound like trick or treating?
I was allowed to go ghashogh-zany one time when I was 9 or 10 years old, thanks to my grandma’s encouragement (called her Khanom meaning Ma’am) . Normally my parents wouldn’t have allowed it, since they viewed it as some of kind of begging and insisted that we maintain a class among the neighbors, but that one year Khanom and Agha Baba ( literal translation: Mister Dad and yep, you guessed it, my grandpa) were visiting and I got away with doing it. Because that’s what grandparents are for!