March 30, 2011

Sizdah Bedar - Persian Tradition of Getting Rid of 13 (Bad Luck) and Menu Ideas

The ancient annual tradition ofسیزده بدر Sizdah Bedar (getting rid of 13) is celebrated on the thirteenth day of فروردین Farvardin, the first month of the Persian calendar, which is also 13 days after Nowruz (Persian New Year). This ritual has been observed since the ancient times where family, friends and neighbors gather together and go out to parks, picnic areas and open fields to spend a fun and happy day playing games, dancing, listening to music, chattering away, and eating delicious food. Games such as تخته نرد takhteh-nard (backgammon) and شطرنج shatranj (chess) are popular. Also, taking a ball along for playing soccer, volleyball or dodge ball is a good idea. On this day it is customary to take your sabzeh (green sprouts) which symbolically embodies the ailments and misfortunes from your home and throw it out, preferably in a nearby running stream. By disposing of your sabzeh you will rid your home of all the unlucky and inauspicious thoughts, feelings and happenings that have been looming in your home and your life. Spending a great day with people you care about the most outdoors, leaving bad luck behind and then coming back home mentally and emotionally refreshed and content is just the perfect thing to do after all the Nowruz activities.

For me, an ideal sizdah bedar is finding yek vajab khak (a small patch of earth) with a little shade under an old tree, and hearing my family's laughter with music playing in the background, with a bowl of ash reshteh, a scoop of yogurt, a piece of bread and a cup of chai. My memories of many sizdah bedars that I spent with my family in Iran, then here in the U.S as a homesick student and later on with my own two kids and husband include many happy, interesting and exciting moments. I'll never forget one of the early memories of sitting crossed leg at the sofreh (tablecloth) in a place called Tembi Gorgi near the town of Masjed Soleiman, eating lunch while keeping an eye on a couple of snakes wrapped around the tree branches not too far from where we were sitting. Another memory is a very short sizdah bedar outing in a garden in Isfahan where we ended up in the middle of a huge colony of ants. We could barely sit down and spread out so we all went back home after a few hopeless tries.

It seems that there are many cultures that believe 13 is an unlucky number. Whether 13 is unlucky or not I am not sure. In my neighborhood there is no house number 13 and I live in a small town in the suburb of New York. There is no 13th street in New York City and I haven't seen any high rise building with a thirteenth floor either. But I am all for going out of the house on sizdah bedar and coming in with a positive and new mindset that all bad things are behind us and to look forward to better things coming our way.

Sizdah Bedar Menu Ideas & Picnic Recipes:
Here's my menu ideas based on the recipes that I've posted so far. If you have any suggestions please let me know. First on my list is ajil (mixed nuts), then it's ash reshteh (bean and noodle soup) with lots of herbs and kashk (whey).
 Ash Reshteh
Kabab Recipes:

It's much easier to carry and serve one-dish meals rather than our common polow and khoresh. Rice with dill and lima beans was a must have for sizdah bedar in our home. It can be served with chicken or lamb.

Rice One-Dish Meal:

Sandwich Recipes:

Side Dish Recipes:



Tehran, Iran Panoramio Photo

Sizdah Bedar, Tehran, Iran, Source: Mehr News

Sizdah Bedar, Tehran, Iran,  Source: Mehr News 

Sizdah Bedar, Gorgan, Iran, Source: Mehr News

Sizdah Bedar, Tehran, Iran, Source: Mehr News

Sizdah Bedar, Tehran, Iran, Source: Mehr News

Sizdah Bedar, Gorgan, Iran, Source: Mehr News
Enjoy! Happy Sizdah Bedar!


  1. So interesting! Thanks for sharing such wonderful traditions and dishes!!

  2. Nice photos and story, and very appetising looking meals

  3. Oh my word :) How mouth-watering these beautiful photos are :D

    Nice job! Many thanks & Happy Sizdah Bedar!
    From Elli

  4. I am hungry!!, mouthwatering here, maybe I should host a persian lunch for friends , gorgeous photos you have here

  5. Happy New Year,Azita :) all the pictures make me hungry..oh Gosh. We will having New Year Picnic this saturday,I can't wait to see what is going on there, this is the first time picnic for me as 'outsider' LOL.

  6. What a lovely tradition! thanks for sharing with us and for all these delightful recipes! I would like to taste them all :-)
    Happy Sizdah Bedar!

  7. salam azita joon! sale no mobarak bashe!!
    salamati va shadi ro barat arezoo daram.

    these lovey dishes are so tempting! especially if one is pregnant like me!!
    thanks for sharing.

  8. سمیه joon, sale no shoma va khanehvadeh mobarak basheh! Have a very healthy and happy New Year! I wish you all the best with your pregnancy!
    All the best,

  9. Nice post Azita, I enjoyed the pictures very much...thanks! Have a great week :-)

  10. Ah perfect! We've been looking for recipes for sizdah bedar... will try some of these!

  11. i was looking for this information..god's will.dastet dard nakone