Haft Sin is one of the components of the rituals of the New Year’s Day festival. Haft, seven and sin, the letter S, denotes seven items beginning with the letter S, traditionally displayed on a dining cloth, the Sofra-ye haft sin, that every household spreads out on the floor or on a table in a room normally reserved for entertaining guests. The sin items are traditionally as follows:
- sabza, wheat, sometimes lentils, grown to the height of a few inches.
- sepand, esfand, seeds of wild rue often placed in a small incense burner and burned just after the turn of the year
- sib, apples
- sekka, a few newly minted coins
- sir, garlic cloves
- serka, vinegar
- a bowl of samanu: a thick, sweet paste reddish in color, made of wheat, water, oil, flour, almonds or walnuts. Some used to be distributed among neighbors, who return the container together with one or more colored eggs or a green leaf.
Some households add even more sin items. The Sofra-ye haft sin is not particular to the Nowruz festival: identical sofra are set out for wedding ceremonies and in certain areas during the eve of the fortieth winter day, shab-e chella. Afghans, Tajiks, Armenians, who share in the heritage of Iranian culture and tradition do not display a haftsin.
Other elements of the Sofra:
A mirror, candles – traditionally according to the number of the children in the household, the holy Book, the Shah-nama or the Divan of Hafez, a jar of water containing a goldfish, (sometimes a jug of rainwater and/or a bowl of water containing a green leaf of pomegranate …), vessels containing milk, rose water, honey, sugar, 1, 3, 5 or 7 colored eggs, flowers – customarily hyacinth, sonbol, branches of musk willow bid-e meshk, a plate of fruits, variety of bread often sweetened, yogurt and fresh cheese, various sweets, and ajil, a mixture of dried roasted seeds, wheat, rice and nuts, all mixed with raisins …
The history of the custom is obscure. All indications suggest that the haft sin as we know it is not old and it seems to have come into vogue only in the last century. However, the essential objects of the Nowruz table are very ancient and meaningful, while the idea of the haft sin is recent and the result of popular fancy tastefully developed into a pleasant ritual. An excerpt and adaptation of Haftsin from the Encyclopædia Iranica.
Haftsin by Aref-Adib
Update: Feb 2008
What we are never told about “No-Rooz” and “Haft-Seen” by Fariborz Rahnamoon
Online Haft sin
تزئين تخممرغ هفتسين