February 21, 2010

Spring Is Just Around The Corner! It's Time For Spring Cleaning - Iranian Style

It may seem too early to talk about Spring cleaning when the ground is covered with snow and the weather is freezing where I live. However, there are only four weeks left until the Spring equinox when the days and nights are of equal length and the start of Persian New Year and the celebration of Nowruz (New Day)!

Before the actual Nowruz celebration, festivities, family gatherings and all the visits (did-o-bazdid-e Eid) begins, there's the extensive top to bottom, thorough and all-out spring cleaning (khaneh- tekani) that has to take place. This ritual is for everyone and every household, whether one lives in a simple room with minimal furnishings or in a palatial mansion filled with luxurious items! This once a year cleaning ritual is more than the typical routine of vacuuming, mopping and dusting that we normally do. In our home, like the homes of many Iranians, the process of Spring cleaning starts weeks before the Nowruz celebration, so by the time Nowruz arrives (sal-e tahvil), the house would be sparkling clean, organized and neat, the children dressed in their new spring clothes and the Haft-Seen table (table with items starting with the letter "S" each symbolically representing, health, happiness and prosperity), would be beautifully set.

Growing up in Iran, this was one of the best times of the year. My mother's ritual of spring cleaning would start with going through all the closets and chest drawers one by one. She would  take everything out, get rid of the old and worn out clothing, put the winter clothes away and neatly return the "good" clothing. Then she would clean the rugs, draperies, shades, windows, refrigerator, stove, kitchen cabinets and appliances. Not to mention, the occasional fresh coat of paint for the living room and dining room and the re-upholstery of some of the chairs where we usually entertain and greet family and friends. These are a few rituals, among many others, that take place in preparation for the Persian New Year.

These processes are also a symbolic reminder to take in the spirit of Spring and clear our hearts and minds and let go of grudges and hard feelings that we might have accumulated and try to start the New Year with a new attitude and positive outlook on life. I personally find the خانه تکانی Spring cleaning activities joyous and look forward to cleaning every nook and cranny in my house and to let go of anything that I have held on to over the years. It's time for me to carry on the tradition, as my mother kept it together after the loss of my father and my only sister. She welcomed the Nowruz celebrations with joy, and I too shall do the same without my mother's presence. Is there ever a time to overcome your loss?  I take in the fresh new air of the coming New Year and am working on the challenging task of being in the moment with every breath. Enjoy your Spring Cleaning and have fun with it!

Peace and blessings!


  1. I'm looking forward to spring coming soon :) This year here it's going to be a lot like it when I was growing up - with all the snow melting :)

  2. I feel like I learned so much about Persian culture by reading this. What a great post!

  3. 5 Star Foodie, I'm looking forward to Spring too!
    Chow and Chatter, Thank you dear!
    Joanne, That's very nice of you to say, thank you!

  4. Azita
    I so enjoyed reading your post, I felt like I could imagine life in Iran while the Spring cleaning activities were taking place, it made me feel happy and a bit nostalgic.

  5. A beautiful post, (and exquisite hyancinth portrait) thank you for sharing this lovely and tradition! It makes so much sense...clearing, releasing, and refreshing our hearts and homes.
    Yesterday, before I read this timely post, I cleaned out the dining room sideboard and felt a wonderfully calming sense of renewal. Now onto the rest of the house...and onto Spring!

  6. What a pretty post Azita. We do our cleaning too and with lot of festivities involved. Have out new year sometimes during march/april. I remember celebrating the day with bright yellow.. dresses for us when we were little. Loved reading about your tradition.

  7. Taste of Beirut, thank you very much!
    Bento bird, thank you for your kind words, as always!
    Soma,that's interesting, our new year is on march 20th or 21th. thank you!