Happy Iranian New Year
Today is also the first day of the Iranian new year, which always starts on the first day of spring. This calendar is used in Iran and Afghanistan, where it is now year 1385.
On this day in Iran, the dining table is decorated with the haft seen (Seven S's), which get their name from the fact that their names all begin with the letter S. Among them are apple, vinegar, garlic, wheat sprouts, and sumach. Other decorations include colourful eggs, a mirror, candles, goldfish, coins, pictures of family and friends, and an important book (such as the poetry of Omar Khayyam). The family gathers around the table at the exact moment of spring (Sal Tahvil) to wish each other a happy new year.
As part of the new year celebration, children receive presents from Papa Norouz and from older relatives including their parents. They also revel in the singing and dancing in the streets by Haji Firouz. The next 13 days are a holiday period, consisting mostly of visiting friends and family.
Here are a couple of pictures from my parents' Norouz table, from 2004: