HaftSeen – The Persian New Year’s Beautiful Still-Life

An iconic Norooz custom is creating a still-life tableau called HaftSeen — literally meaning: “Seven S’s” — a display of at least seven traditional and symbolic-laden items, all bearing names that begin with the letter “S” in Farsi. Hence: Seven S.

Here’s a handy-dandy guide to what you would find in a haftseen display and the idealized wishes it symbolizes for the new year:

Candles, a mirror, a bowl of gold fish, fresh flowers, rose water, a holy book of one’s faith or the poetry books of revered Persian poets Hafiz or Rumi or Khayam, decorated eggs, and a mixed plate of traditional Iranian shirini (pastry) are “non-S” items that have carved an indelible niche at the haftseen table for themselves. Some also float an orange in a crystal bowl of water to symbolize the planet earth.

People are of course at liberty to add other objects of delight as a personal touch to the setting as well. (See how different people have put their own spin on the traditional template of this Norooz staple on this Flickr page.)

I’m biased of course but not alone in finding the making and setting of haftseen to be a truly poignant and poetic custom. The heart of the new year’s celebration.

It is at the proximity of the haftseen display that a family gathers to await the exact moment when winter ends and spring begins; and thus dawns the “New Day” or Norooz. This year Winter ends tomorrow at approximately 7 am Eastern Standard time.

So when we meet again, winter will be over. It will be spring. Norooz. A new day!

Until then, Happy Spring!

And if you observe this beautiful holiday: Dorood bar shoma! Norooz ‘etoon Pirooz!

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Comments (43)

  • Fae's Twist & Tango 8 years ago Reply

    Azita-jan, Eid’e Norooz’e shoma va khanevadeh’tan mobarak!!!
    Insha’allah sal’e por az salamati va shirin-kam bayaye hameh bashad.
    Very, very cute haft-seen and definition collages!
    I made baghlava last night and you’ll see it tomorrow morning! 😀

    azita 8 years ago Reply

    Fae Joon! Please call me “to” not “shoma”! Ma ba ham joon jooni hastim, na? I’m always so happy to see your smiley face icon. Lucky those who get to taste your baghlava. Really looking forward to the post.
    Norooze’toon mobarak basheh – to you and your family!

    Fae's Twist & Tango 8 years ago

    Okay, thank you. 😀

  • apuginthekitchen 8 years ago Reply

    How beautiful, Happy Norooz to you, I think it’s such a beautiful tradition with each item having a special meaning, and what a gorgeous table with all of those beautiful symbolic items.

    azita 8 years ago Reply

    This morning felt like winter now it’s really like spring. Yes! I love the symbolic meanings as well and there’s just something very spiritual about the whole things but any who ….
    Thank you & happy spring to you!!

  • johnnysenough hepburn 8 years ago Reply

    – Happy Spring!
    – So love this time of year. Even though it was cold outside I was still basking in sunshine.

    azita 8 years ago Reply

    I’m partial to all seasons except summer. But agree, something magical about spring. How’s your hyacinth by the way?

    johnnysenough hepburn 8 years ago

    It didn’t flower this year. I’m hoping that’s not a bad omen. It produced amazing foliage that was so tall it keeled over! And my amarylis lily isn’t showing any signs of flowering either. At least all of my herbs survived and are beginning to thrive.

  • I agree that the Haftseen is poetic. Thanks for introducing me to this tradition.

    azita 8 years ago Reply

    My pleasure! It’s very much rooted in spring and renewal … so a rather universal theme that I think everyone can adapt/adopt to some extent

  • petit4chocolatier 8 years ago Reply

    Azita, love this!! Happy Spring to you 🙂

    azita 8 years ago Reply

    Happy spring and may there be some good cupcakes in store for me this year! 🙂

  • Darya 8 years ago Reply

    Happy Norooz, Azita!

  • azita 8 years ago Reply

    Thank you Darya joon! & Happy Spring to you!

  • Lilly Sue 8 years ago Reply

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • Ava 7 years ago Reply

    Thank you for the cutest Haftseen graphic, ever, and also for helping the least Persian, Persian to introduce my husband and sons to Norooz. Awesome!

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    Aw! I adore comments like this! I’m absolutely delighted to hear this will come in handy as an intro to the Persian culture and New Year to your family! 🙂 Norooz is right around the corner too 🙂

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  • Camila 5 years ago Reply

    Thank you so much for doing this post. I am an American married to an Iranian for two years now and I finally made at attempt to set up a Haft Seen table as a surprise and my husband was so excited. I’ll blog about it tomorrow and link back to this page.

  • Ario 5 years ago Reply

    First of all happy new year, happy Norouz. What I don’t understand is why you put the Koran, which is a holy book for Muslim people, at Sofreh Haftsin. You know that Koran and Muslim religion are against Ajam (Persian), and also against Norouz. The Islamic government is against Norouz and all Persian fiesta’s. Why don’t you use the Iranian book, Avesta, the Gatha from the Zartosht, which belongs to Iranian and all Persian, and good people on earth, also it’s about love, nature and humanity, instead of an Islamic book, which is full of anger, hate and is inhuman? Don’t you think that Norouz should not be used for any political and religious purposes?
    Please keep Islam away from the Norouz. Let’s keep it clean.
    Thank you, Ario

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