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Sierra Daily

04/01/2011

Going Outdoors for Good Luck

Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak!  For those of you who don’t speak Farsi…Happy New Year!  According to the Persian calendar, the turning of the vernal equinox on March 21st launched us into the year 1390 and thirteen days of celebration of this brand new year.

The last day of those celebrations ends tomorrow, April 2nd, when Persians everywhere will gather up family and friends and head outdoors.  Some call it Persian Nature Day, or Sizdah Be-dar.  It means picnics, park play dates, hikes, surfing, and ballgames.  This is a day for connecting with family by connecting with nature, for starting the new year off right. 

My father is from Iran, and I have grown up celebrating the changing of two years, two calendars.  But Persian New Year always held a special meaning for me. I loved it; the symbolism of the special items on the table, the fact that the timing of the vernal equinox changes every year.  But mostly I loved that 13 days after the new year turned, my family would gather itself up and head out the door, to explore and play and enjoy the spring sunshine.  Picnics at Poway Lake or a trip to the beach, we were together and we were outdoors.  Looking back now, it’s so clear that those outdoor experiences with my family were the start of my interest in nature.  In some way, I have my Persian heritage to thank for my commitment to a greener future.

But where did this tradition come from?  Well, anyone who has ever avoided stepping under a ladder or staying on the 13th floor of a hotel can probably guess.  When literally translated, Sizdah Be-dar means “thirteen passes by.”  Because the number thirteen caries such ominous weight, such inherent bad luck, the figurative meaning is “the bad luck of the thirteenth passes you by.”  So we Persians, to avoid all the bad luck floating around on the first thirteenth day of a new year, head outdoors and lose ourselves in nature.  We turn potential bad luck into joyful experiences, and start the new year off with a smile.

So open the door to nature tomorrow and celebrate the year 1390!  You just might find some good luck coming your way.  Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak!

-- Tiffany Saleh

Tiffany is the National Youth Outreach Representative for Sierra Club's Building Bridges to the Outdoors program.  Learn more about Persian New Year and Sizdah Be-dar.

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