Written by: Leslie Ahmadi
Date: April 5, 2016
Iranians across the world call it “Norooz,” the day that launches the first day of Spring – and officially kicks off the Iranian New Year.
Being married to a gentleman from Iran, I live in one of a myriad of homes in Columbus, Ohio, with a “New Year’s Table” which is also know as the “Seven S Table”, on proud display.
If you take a moment to study the photo above, you’ll see a New Year’s Table in my home too – a fairly traditional display on our coffee table. It holds a conglomeration of curious objects – each one carrying symbolic significance, each one whose Persian name starts with “S”:
- Sabzeh: tender green sprouts of wheat or barley, standing for birth or the start of new life
- Sekkeh: coins, standing for wealth or material prosperity
- Senjed: a dried fruit called oleaster, standing for love
- Seer: garlic, which stands for medicinal power
- Seeb: the apple, standing for beauty and health
- Somaq: sumac, which stands for fertility, and
- Serkeh, vinegar, which stands for grace and patience with age
There are other embellishments that grace the table. Brightly-colored eggs like you might see at Easter, but with Persian icons on their faces instead: a pouting goldfish which represents life, a pretty round-faced maid with a unibrow and a large-petalled blossom acknowledging the arrival of Spring.
And if you take an even closer peek at our table, you’ll see other objects that hold personal significance for my family’s household – in particular, perhaps, for my daughter Parisa and her brand new husband of Iranian heritage. These items include:
- An American flag alongside its Iranian counterpart
- A copy of the Bible alongside the Koran
- And on the face of one egg: a young couple in love
I pause and recall that the same set of symbols on this customized New Year’s Table – assembled lovingly by Parisa and Amin – would have aptly applied to me and my husband 28 years ago.
And it brings to mind the words of my beloved late father-in-law when I asked him what he thought the secret of peaceable relations between our two countries might be:
“Ms. Leslie,” Baba quoted with straightforward simplicity, “the secret to getting along, to getting past barriers in relations to others, is to want to do so. If we truly want it, it can be accomplished.”
At this time in our world, at this stage of my life, I find sense and comfort inside those words.