Charshanbe Suri is one of the most important festivals celebrated every year in Iran. In fact, the evening of the last Tuesday of the year is celebrated on this occasion. It is the first festival among a set of festivals celebrated on the occasion of Nowruz.

According to some researchers, the word Charshanbe Suri refers to a festival held on Wednesday; because “sur” means feast. However, some other researchers suggest that “soor” is another form of the word “sorkh” (meaning red) and Charshanbe Suri refers to the red fire and/or health.

Charshanbe Suri Traditions

Jumping over the fire

Most important part of the festival concerns jumping over the fire. Families get around each other and put fire on brushwoods in an open space, talk to each other till the midnight, and finally jump over the fire.

When doing this, a song is sung addressed to the fire: “my sickly yellow paleness is yours; your fiery red color is mine”. Singing this song, people ask for the happiness and warmth of fire to be exchanged with their sorrow and problems.



This ritual is related to the past and nowadays is not performed in most of the regions. That is, boys and girls wearing chador not to be recognized and hit spoons against bowls at their neighbor’s door and declare their presence. Those hearing the voice (people inside the house) give them chocolates, pastries, money, nuts, etc.



Burning wild rue

Previously, people would burn wild rue and frankincense on fire so that the evil eye and bad spirits would be chased away from their lives, and a year full of peace would be ahead of them.

Also in some regions, wild rue was bought in especial manner. That is people would ask from seven shops whether they have it or not; and finally, they would buy the wild rue from the very first shop they referred to. The shopkeeper had to be Sayyid, wearing a green shawl around his waist.


Faal Goosh

Young women longing for a spouse make a wish and then, hiding in an invisible place, listen to the words of the people passing, according to which they will decide whether their wish is going to be fulfilled or not.



Reading Shahnameh

Due to the high importance of Shahnameh for Iranian people, they have a tendency towards reading Shahnameh in gatherings with older members of the family at Charshanbe Suri night.


Shawl Dropping

This has been one of the most interesting traditions of Charshanbe Suri, and is still performed in some of the cities like Zanjan and Arak. Young boys tie several silk napkins together to make a long rope; then they drop it down from the roof of the houses so that the owner of the house would be aware of their presence.

Then the owner puts some confectionery, nuts, or money in the shawl and shakes it so that the young boys know that the shawl is ready to be pulled up. The interesting point is that what has been put inside the shawl has its own meaning. For example, pastry means happiness; pomegranate means a lot of children; walnut means a long life; and almond means tolerance. Silver coins also have been the sign of good luck and prosperity. 

Performing this custom in some regions has been indirectly interpreted as marriage proposal, and what is put in the shawl somehow indicates the positive or negative answer to the proposal.


Kuzeh Shekani (pot shattering)

This is a ritual also related to the past, and nowadays it is no more practiced. Some pieces of coal, a little amount of salt, and a dah shahi coin (which is worth 500 dinars) were put in a pot, respectively as the signs of misfortune, misery, and poverty. Then it was passed around the heads of family members. The jar was then dropped from the roof into the alley, with the family members simultaneously saying that: “I have poured all pain and distress existing in the house into the alley”.

It was believed by the ancestors that this will throw away misfortune, misery, and poverty from the house.



Charshanbe Suri Oblation

Those families wishing for something or having a patient member would cook Ash (pottage) as an oblation and give a portion of it to the patient, asking God for his/her healing. Some portions of Ash was given to the neighbors.

In order for their wishes to be fulfilled, some families would give dried nuts to people. While preparing perfect dried nuts for Charshanbe Suri, people used to tell the related story called Kharkan (one who digs prickly bushes) story for each other. As a custom, dried nuts were purchased from a shop facing the Qiblah (Kaaba) direction.

Of course, nowadays Charshanbeh Suri dried nuts are less used as oblation and are more considered as refreshment.


Splash of water

One of the old customs still existing in some villages concerns women going to the river to fill their pots with water at sunset of last Wednesday of the year, not talking to anyone about it. Reaching home, they splash the water at housewares; or on their way home, they splash the water at the people they confront on their way, so that they would be happy and healthy in the New Year.


Fortune Telling

From the past till the present, people refer to Hafez’s poetry book to see if their wishes would be fulfilled or not, upon the meaning of the poems. Usually, what they wish is for the next year and with promising ghazals of Hafez (sonnet by Hafez), their mood is improved.



Last Words

As you see, traditions from the past have been very interesting and. These days using firecrackers is customary. If safe types of firecrackers are used, they will add more attraction to this Iranian tradition through the noise and excitement they create.

From the past, Charshanbe Suri has been celebrated as a very beautiful night, promising the New Year and days of spring. Most of tourists travelling to Iran have remembered the festival as a happy and interesting one.