Sizdah Bedar, often referred to as “Thirteen Outdoors” or Nature’s Day, is an enchanting festival celebrated annually on the thirteenth day of Farvardin—the inaugural month of the Iranian calendar. This day beckons families and friends to step outside, lay down their picnic spreads, and bask in nature’s bounty.
Marking the culmination of the Nowruz holidays in Iran, Sizdah Bedar is more than just a tradition—it’s a testament to the country’s rich cultural tapestry. While Nowruz ushers in the Iranian New Year, Sizdah Bedar encourages everyone to embrace the outdoors and revel in nature’s wonders.
Tracing its roots to ancient Zoroastrianism, the festival symbolizes the rejuvenating victory of spring over winter’s chill. It’s a day where the air is thick with folklore, with many believing that venturing outside wards off any malevolent spirits that roam the earth on this particular day.
A Persian Picnic
At the heart of Sizdah Bedar, picnics steal the show. Families and friends unite, laying out a spread of rice dishes, grilled meat, delectable pastries, sweets, and aromatic herbal teas. As the rhythm of music fills the air, dance steps synchronize, creating an ambiance of joy.
Tying the “sizdah-bedar-knot” stands out as a poignant ritual. Participants believe in transferring the year’s bad luck to this knot and later cast it into the wind, letting go of past misfortunes.
The festival also brings out the competitive spirit in attendees. From horse riding, archery to wrestling, these games, once warrior training tools, now serve as familial bonding avenues.
Releasing Sprouting Greens: A Ritual of Renewal
At the picnic’s close, people discard the Haft-Seen’s greenery (Sabze) back to nature. Beware, touching someone’s discarded greenery or taking it home spells bad luck!
The Tradition of Knotting the Greenery
Young singles, especially women, often tie the leaves of the discarded greenery. As they knot, they whisper wishes for a future partner or spouse.
The Lie of the Thirteen
On Sizdah Bedar, Iranians embrace the “Lie of the Thirteen” (Dorugh-e Sizdah), a tradition mirroring the jests of April Fools’ Day. Historically, this prank-filled holiday dates back to 536 BC in the Achaemenid Empire.