Iran has played a significant cultural role in the region and specifically the Islamic World, with many of its traditional customs getting the attention of other nations, over the past decades.
Here is a brief chronological review of the most influential events and festivals in Iranian culture.
Nowruz (literally meaning new day) is the Iranian New Year celebration. The almost two-week long celebration ends on the 13th day of Farvardin – the first month of year in the Persian calendar – with the tradition of spending the day outdoors.
Nowruz is concurrent with the Vernal Equinox which is the moment of the year when the sun positions itself exactly above the equator, making day and night of equal length.
Nowruz was inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. It has been recognized as an international day by the UN General Assembly since 2010.
It has been turned into a common language of millions of people in Asia and Europe, especially Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia, Middle East, Caucasus, Balkans, Black Sea region, and many other parts of the world.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar and it rotates around the Iranian calendar (which is based on the solar year) because of it being based on the lunar cycles. It is the month when the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Ramadan is an Islamic occasion and ritual which has become part of the Iranian tradition and culture to the extent that many non-Muslim Iranians also observe the Ramadan rituals during the holy month.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset when they break their fast with the evening meal “iftar”.
The act of fasting is aimed to remind people of the plight of the impoverished people. During Ramadan, people make more charitable donations and spend more time reading the Quran, and praying.
Yalda Night ceremony is one of the ancient traditions of Iran and an occasion to gather and celebrate the abundance of blessings. Observed in the beginning of winter, Yalda is the longest night of the year.
Yalda is the start of the cold-weather celebrations. It is the celebration of nature. It’s a traditional Iranian ritual, and most importantly it is a bond between the traditional Iranian and European cultures.
On this joyful night, people come together, tell stories, eat delicious foods and fruits, have nuts, and read poems by Iranian world-known poet Hafiz.
Some of the fruits served at this night are watermelons and pomegranates. Pomegranate is an Iranian fruit. It is a fruit from the East and Europe has no pomegranate. It is a symbol of diversity within unity. We use fruits that are red or yellow, which are the symbol of the sun. Watermelon has the utmost red color which is symbolically known as the core of the sun.
22nd of Bahman (the 11th month in the Persian calendar) is the final and perhaps the most significant event embedded into Iranian culture. It is the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in February 1979. On the day the royal dynasties ruling Iran and Persia ended after thousands of years and the Islamic Republic were formed based on popular vote offering the national democratic rights and freedoms.
Every year the day is celebrated by Iranians worldwide, as well as many non-Iranians across different countries including Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
On 22nd of Bahman Iran enjoys an official holiday and Iranians take to the streets to participate in parades and carnivals celebrating their freedom and independence from the dictatorship of the Pahlavi dynasty.