Celebrating the Persian New Year “Nowruz” on the Vernal Equinox every year in Spring is an Iranian tradition. Zoroastrians around the world set up the traditional Haft-Seen Table in their homes.

Haft-Seen (Persian: هفت‌سین‎) or the seven ‘S’s is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft seen table includes seven items all starting with the letter seen (س) in the Persian alphabet. Haft-Seen was originally called Haftchin (Haftĉin) derived from the words Chin (چین), meaning “to place” and Haft (هفت), the number 7. The Haft Chin table includes the following items which symbolize Zoroastrian yazatas or divinities such asātar and asmān.

The “Haft Chin” items are:

  1. Mirror – symbolizing Sky
  2. Apple – symbolizing Earth
  3. Candles – symbolizing Fire
  4. Golab – rose water symbolizing Water
  5. Sabzeh – wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
  6. Goldfish – symbolizing Animals
  7. Painted Eggs – symbolizing Humans and Fertility

The term and therefore the original custom was changed due to the digraph Ch (چ) not being present in the Arabic language leading to its replacement by the letter S (س). This occurred as a result of acculturation and cultural transformation of the local Persian population by the Umayyad Caliphate following their invasion of Sassanid Persia in 650.

The Haft Seen items are:

  1. Sabzeh – (Persian: سبزه‎)-wheatbarleymung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolising rebirth
  2. Samanu – (Persian: سمنو‎)-sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolising affluence
  3. Senjed – (Persian: سنجد‎)-dried oleaster fruit – symbolising love
  4. Sir – (Persian: سیر‎)- garlic – symbolising medicine
  5. Sib – (Persian: سیب‎)- apples – symbolising beauty and health
  6. Somāq – (Persian: سماق‎)sumac fruit – symbolising (the color of) sunrise
  7. Serkeh – (Persian: سرکه‎) – vinegar – symbolising old-age and patience

Mary Boyce described a traditional Sharifabadi Zoroastrian New Years observance as including:[1]

  • Sabzeh – Sprouts from seven different kinds of seeds
  • clay figures, whitewashed (favorites being domestic animals, cows, donkeys, sheep, camel, nightingale, peacock, also household objects such as sugar-loaf, bowls, or a three-legged stool). These “bear witness to the triumphant works of creation.”
  • mirror
  • a low brazier full of fire
  • a lamp
  • sprays of cypress or pine
  • pomegranates
  • painted eggs
  • Hafez a well known persian poet’s book is displayed and poems are read during the  Yalda festival.

Photos are from the Lexington Library, MA

Related posts:

Significance of Food in a festive Parsi Ses

How to take care of your living GoldFish

Regarding Vinegar

How to make Rose Water


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1 Comment

Roxanna G

Dec 12, 2022, 7:16 pm

what about haft sheen ? Confused where this fits into haft sin vs haft chin, thank you!

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