Nowruz: Persian new year on campus


Morgan Suman

As students walk through the hallway in the student life building, they see the table celebrating the holiday, Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Morgan Suman, Staff Writer

For Mrs. Goldie Arriola, the Nowruz celebration has always been an important part of her Iranian-American identity and culture.

Mrs. Arriola, Kinkaid’s human resources director, shared her heritage through creating a Nowruz celebration table, called a haft-seen, in the Student Life building with the aid of Dr. Sonia Clayton, Upper School Science teacher and Ms. Yasi Khosrowshahi, Lower School registrar. 

“I knew to add some things to the table from my childhood, and now as an adult, I make a table in my own home,” Mrs. Arriola said. Some things I’m still learning, so the creation of this table allowed me to have some conversations with my mom and my family.” 

The Nowruz celebration, marking the Persian new year, is held on the day of the spring equinox, which fell on March 20, 2022. It is a popular festival celebrated by both branches of Islam in parts of the Middle East and usually is a public holiday.

The haft-seen table displays much of the symbolism traditionally associated with the Persian New Year. Haft-seen translates to “seven seen” — all seven items on the table begin with the Farsi letter “seen” or “s.” Items you will see on the table are: somagh (the spice sumac), which symbolizes the color of the sunrise; serkeh (vinegar), which symbolizes age and patience; senjed (dried fruit from the lotus tree), which symbolizes love; samanoo (sweet pudding), symbolizing affluence; sabzeh (sprouts), symbolizing rebirth; sib (apple), symbolizing health and beauty; and sir (garlic), symbolizing medicine.

One of Mrs. Arriola’s personal favorites are the beautiful flowers that are a part of many households set ups for this celebration, symbolizing a fresh opportunity and renewal. 

Mrs. Arriola also notes how people generally celebrate Nowruz with food. 

“On the day of the spring equinox, we usually have a day with a nice family dinner,” she said. “The tradition is to go see your friends and family over the next 13 days.”

Mrs. Arriola is grateful to the Kinkaid community for helping her set up the haft-seen table. 

“One of my favorite things is how as a community we lean in and support each other and Chef Harris did just that,” she shared. “He took an interest in what we were doing here, he enjoyed the cuisine with us and tomorrow he’s going to make some samples of the cuisine.”