by Jennifer Heath
In ancient Greece, Dionysus was central to calendar fests. In the country, the Winter Solstice was celebrated most fervently, whereas in the city, the Vernal Equinox was revered. The Winter Solstice is the month of Poseidon. Spring belonged especially all that wild, untamed joy (and despair), to Pan, Gaia and all chthonic glory, and to Persephone, of course, who rose annually from the Underworld, the place of dreams, to be with and stimulate. with her daughterly love, her fertile mother, the goddess of barley and bees, Demeter.
It’s no wonder Spring bacchanal belonged most to city folk, who see so little ─ little that’s necessarily immediately obvious ─ of Nature, with all her nuances. In any case, country folk worldwide ─ like gardeners ever since ─ were busy turning the soil, planting seeds, hoping for the best. (Celebrations like Beltane on May Day established and ensured the fertility of crops and livestock already planted and inseminated.)
Here in Boulder on Spring Equinox 2017, I was/am tired. All over the Persian and Persian-esque world, the Vernal Equinox is celebrated, and I grew up embedded in vernal festivities, too. Nowruz is honored with fine meals and tables set with sprouted wheat grass, tulips, fruit, almonds, goldfish to bring the world back to life.
Year after year, with great joy, I have invited friends to share Nowruz at my table. I use many of the beloved traditional, Zoroastrian settings — as celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, many others of the so-called “Stans,” as well as in India, not to say the diaspora. Nowruz is important to me. After all, a gardener ─ even a meagre one like me ─ knows the wealth to come with the spring. And we exalt it in our diverse ways. My mother liked to have a green supper ─ which I wrote about a few equinoxes ago. https://heathcollom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2083&action=edit
This year, however, I was just somehow too preoccupied, too tired, too puzzled by life to do much at all about Nowruz. My daughter visited and that seemed like spring enough… except I missed Nowruz Green Supper. In my dismay tonight, I learned that I can’tdo without the rituals marking each season and every event that marks the passages of our lives, the movements of our gardens.
I can’t describe the feeling of life I get just watching this graceful creature glide around her little bowl. It’s not hard to see why at Nowruz the fish is a symbol of prosperity.
Tomorrow, better late than never, I will bake Dr. Jenny’s cardamon-rose cookies. Hey! The daffodils are just coming up, so why shouldn’t we prolong the delights of Nowruz? https://doctorjenny.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/cardamom-rose-nowruz-cookies/
As the novelist Firoozeh Dumas wrote in her wonderful New York Times op ed on March 19, “An Iranian Holiday That’s Perfect for Americans” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/sunday/an-iranian-holiday-thats-perfect-for-americans.html) ─
“Nowruz asks only one thing of you: to have hope.”
Now-ruz means New-Year. I wish you the happiest, most fulfilling coming days, weeks and months. Cookies, fish and all.