Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jumping Over Fire!

Last night, I participated in an Iranian celebration called Chahar Shanbeh Suri! Chahar Shanbeh Suri is an ancient Iranian festival of fire dating back to 1,700 BC! It takes place a few days before the ancient Noruz festival which celebrates the coming of Spring and is the Iranian New Year. Chahar means Wednesday and suri means feast. It is actually celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year. Bonfires are lit at sunset, and the idea is to not let the sun set! The tradition goes back to when the Zoroastrian religion was popular in Persia (ancient Iran) and fire was considered to be sacred and pure. Iranians honor this tradition by celebrating Chahar Shanbeh Suri today!

People jump over the bonfires that are set on the street and recite the following:     

Zardy-e-man az tow,
Sorkhy-e-tow az man

The literal translation is 
My sickly yellow paleness is yours,
Your fiery red color is mine
which means you want the fire to take your paleness, problems and sickness and in turn give you redness, warmth and energy.

Like millions of people around the world, my family and I jumped over the fire last night and recited the words that I mentioned, it was a lot of fun! My sister Leila and I look forward to this festival every year. We are old enough to jump over the bonfires by ourselves ( they are not very big!), but when we were younger our parents would hold us in their arms and jump with us.  I am really happy and proud to be able to celebrate a family tradition that goes back thousands of years. Next, is the Iranian New Year which we will celebrate this coming Sunday!

Have you heard of Chahar Shanbeh SuriI?
Do you celebrate  Chahar Shanbeh Suri?
Do you celebrate any family traditions that are as unusual as Chahar Shanbeh Suri?


  1. Minoo (Hannah's aunt)March 17, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Dear Hannah,

    Thank you so much for a wondeful post on Chahar Shanbeh Suri, one of my favorite Iranian celebrations. I am so glad you chose to share this really fun tradition with everyone.

    Just like you and Leila, as a child I really looked forward to jumping over the fire. It was a lot of fun as the whole neighborhood would gather outside to jump over multiple bonfires set the length of the whole street!

    I am so happy that you are proud of your heritage and that you enjoy participating in all of our culture's wonderful traditions. I think it's very important to keep one's traditions alive.

    Keep up the good work.

    Much love,
    Khaleh Minoo

  2. Dear Hannah,

    Great post! It is cool seeing people jumping over fire it looks really fun! I would like to do but I would be pretty scared. I have a question for you: Did you have fun jumping over the fire? And another question is: Did you have fun at the celabration? Keep up the good work! Happy Blogging!

    Taylor :) in Mr. Salsich's class

  3. Dear Khaleh Minoo,

    As always, it nice to see your comment! Chahar Shanbeh Suri is one of my favorite Iranian traditions also! You get to spend lots of time with your friends and family, and best of all you can jump over fire!

    I love jumping over the fire, so I think it would be exciting to have many bonfires the length of the whole street! It would probably take a while to jump over that many!

    You are right, I am very proud of my heritage, and I am glad that my parents teach me about our culture!


  4. @ Taylor,

    I was so surprised that you left a comment on my blog!

    It is a lot of fun jumping over the fire. The fire really isn't that high, and I am sure you could jump over it. If you do try it I am sure you would have as much fun as me!

    I think that the celebration is a blast! There is lots of family and friends to celebrate with!

    Your blogging buddy,

  5. Dear Hannah,

    Thank you for sharing with us this very interesting post.

    I have never heard of this kind of festival to celebrate the coming in of Spring (New Year).
    I found it very interesting that jumping over the fire gives you warmth which is so true for on a cold night when you are sitting next to an open fire you really do feel quite warm which in turn does really give you energy and the warmth.

    Once again thank you sharing such a wonderful post about your hertiage.
    From your blogging buddy,

  6. @AA,

    As always thank you for commenting! The festival of fire or Chahar Shanbeh Suri is one of many festivities that happen during the two and a half week of celebrations for the Persian New Year.

    You are right, sitting by a warm fire does give you energy and therefore warms you up!

    I am glad you enjoyed my post about one of my customs!
    Your blogging buddy,

  7. Dear Hannah,

    I learned so much from your post! I have taught several students from Iran and am hoping to ask them about their celebrations here in San Antonio.

    Jumping over the fire sounds like a beautiful ceremony. When I look at your picture, I can practically hear "Zardy-e-man az tow, Sorkhy-e-tow az man" and feel the heat from the flame.

    I am 100% Irish. I am second generation, which means my grandparents were born in Ireland on both sides of my family. I even have an Uncle Patrick who was born on March 17th! Each year, I make a special dinner for my family to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I make corned beef with cabbage. This year, I also made homemade mint ice cream. We remember the courage of St. Patrick and celebrate our family.

    Happy New Year!
    Mrs. Kistler

  8. @ Mrs. Kistler,

    Thank you for your quality comment on my blog!

    Jumping over the fire really is a beautiful ceremony, and my family and I love celebrating it! Everyone has a good time at the celebration.

    Thank you for sharing about your culture. I love learning about other people's culture and celebrations.

    I think it is very funny that you have an Uncle Patrick and he was born on St. Patrick's Day!

    I enjoy St. Patrick's Day, and I think corned beef and cabbage is delicious.


  9. Dear Hannah,
    I love this interesting post.

    That is awesome you participated in this tradition.

    I have a question,
    is this the first time you have Participated in one of these events?

    I have not participated in one of these tradition.

    No I have not heard of the Chahar Shanbeh SuriI before.

    No I do not celebrate Chahar Shanbeh SuriI.

    Keep in touch,

  10. Dear Hannah,

    If I jumped over fire I would be really scared! My family has so many different celebrations. The first one is my family has a picnic before the day of the Rayes Magos.

    The second celebration is we watch bulls chase people while we watch them out our windows of our house in Spain. Third, my family also goes to a picnic just for fun to see our relatives.


  11. @ Bianca,

    Thank you for your lovely comment. To answer you question, this is not the first time that I participated in Chahar Shanbeh Suri. I have been doing it since I was a baby. When I was younger, my parents would hold me and would jump over the flames! I have been jumping myself since I was four.

    Your blogging buddy,

  12. @ Nicolas,

    Thank you for commenting on my post. I know what you mean, it does seem scary to jump over fire, but the flames are not big and the parents supervise very closely. Once the kids jump over the flames a few times then the flames are made bigger and the adults jump.

    You mentioned that you go on a picnic with your family for a celebration, in my culture we go on a picnic with family and friends thirteen days after the Persian New Year.

    I have heard of the running of the bulls, now that sounds scary! I am glad that you just watch, that's what I would do also!


  13. Dear Hannah,

    Thank you for your lovely post about Charshanbe-Souri. I am happy to see that more and more Iranians celebrate this holiday as the years of living away from the country go by. It is apparent that we have realized in order to keep our culture alive, we have to honor all our ancient traditions, and participate in celebrating them as much as we can. Your pictures of Charshanbe-Souri look so grand and they make me wish I was there.

    Thank you for your wonderful display of this cherished holiday.


    Iman's Mom


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