The Haft Seen table is a decoration found in many homes in Iran during Now Ruz. It is set on the table days before the vernal equinox, marking the beginning of the Iranian New Year. Haft is the Persian word for seven and seen is the Persian letter which corresponds to the letter "s", so the Haft Seen is the seven "s'es".

The seven ses, which represent the happiness and prosperity that the family hopes to have, include:

1. sekeh - a gold, or shiny, coin symbolizing an adequate income
2. samanu - a sweet wheat pudding, symboling the sweetness of life
3. sabzi - green vegetable or herb shoots symbolizing fertility
4. sonbol - hyacinth flower
5. seer - garlic
6. senjed - a small dried fruit
7. serkeh - vinegar to ward off bitterness
If any of the items are not available, two other "s" items may be substituted: sib - apple, or sumagh - sumac.

The Haft Seen custom is nearly 2000 years old. In Sassanian Iran, the custom was to have a Haft Sheen table. Between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., most of the Zoroastrians converted to Islam and the Haft Sheen was modified into the Haft Seen. One reason for this change was that sharab - wine, was part of the Haft Sheen table. Today, the Qur'an is often placed on the table and the male head of the household recites verses at the time of the equinox. Other items commonly found on the Haft Seen table include a mirror, boiled eggs, sweets, candles, and a goldfish in a bowl.

Source : Iran Times, Vol. XXXII, No. 1, Friday, March 15, 2002.

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