The Persian ceremonious “seven ‘S’ item tablecloth” (Haft-Seen)
To celebrate the New Year, families gather around a specially prepared holiday tablecloth to make wishes for the coming months. There are seven items on this decorative table symbolizing new life and renewal. Although the custom has evolved over the centuries and may have regional variation, at least seven basic items, each beginning with the Persian letter “S”, pronounced “Seen” are traditionally placed on the Haft-Seen table. Many of them also refer to the seven Zoroastrian immortals that guarded the sky, water, earth, fire, plants, animals and human beings in ancient Iran.
The elements on the Haft-Seen table:
Sib/apple: Fertility and beauty, love and kindness
Somagh/sumac: Represents the color of sunrise and symbolizes rising, patience and endurance
Serkeh/vinegar: Immortality and eternity
Senjed/Lotus Tree dried fruit/ sea-buckthorn: Fertility and love; many believe that by eating the dried fruit of The Lotus Tree or by smelling the leaves and the blossoms of sea-buckthorn stimulate love
Sabzeh/wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish: Rebirth, symbols of income, abundance and blessing
Samanu/wheat sprout pudding: sweetness
Seer/garlic: Contentment, self-respect, taking care of one’s health
Other elements on the Haft-Seen table:
Sekkeh/coin: Wealth, goodness and blessing
Other symbols of good luck can also be placed on the table, such as:
The Holy Qur’an: To signify the final word of God, to indicate strong faith, and to bless the Haft-Seen table of Muslims
A gold fish: To symbolize life or fertility
A mirror: To reflect the light of wisdom and creation, and to represent wholeness
A brazier: To burn wild rue, a sacred herb to ward off evil spirits.
Rose water: To purify and release a fragrant smell
A Seville orange: An orange floating in a bowl of water, representing the earth floating in space
Candles: To symbolize the significance of fire by placing a candle for each family member.
Decorated eggs or colored eggs: To represent fertility