Springtime is a very significant and cathartic time for my family and I. This is when we ring in our New Year, better known as Nowruz or Iranian New Year, and shed everything that has served us no good. It’s a celebration that brings together people across different socio-political communities, who may not exactly see eye to eye at other times. Iranians or Persians—depending on whom you ask—will take credit for a lot of inventions, and will (politely) argue with you if you disagree with them. Some of these include algebra (never my strong suit), chess (defeated my brother a handful of times before forgetting how to play), and Shiraz wine (a touchy subject as alcohol has been prohibited in my darling homeland for almost forty years). But one phenomenon that is rarely mentioned is the concept of spring cleaning, as it relates to your home, as well as your soul.
During the weeks leading to the arrival of spring and the multi-century-old celebration, houses, apartments, and every dwelling in between are turned upside down—out with the old and in with the new, as they say. This practice of home improvement is intended to usher in a new and more positive energy that may have gotten diluted in the year gone by. And the road to getting the spring back in your step doesn’t end there. Tabletops are decorated with Haft-Seen, seven symbolic items starting with the letter “S” in the Persian alphabet arranged for good luck. These include sib (apple), sir (garlic), sabze (lentil sprouts), sumac, sekeh (coins), samanoo (sweet pudding), and senjed (dried fruit), and adding colourful painted eggs is also encouraged. The arrival of spring would also not be complete without a designated “spiritual cleansing” day. Based on an ancient Zoroastrian ritual, the Chaharshanbe Suri festival sees millions of Iranians around the world jumping over bush fires—or over a candle in an alleyway in my case—in hopes of purifying all the pain and unhappiness accumulated over the last year.
I was brought up to believe and still hold true that in order to get the most out of life, one must take a brave step forward and leave the past behind, where it belongs. Springtime gifts us with the opportunity to embrace change, and the new beginnings it brings can be quite profound. There’s a song by Tom Waits called “You Can Never Hold Back Spring” that I often play this time of year. “Even though you’ve lost your way, the world keeps dreaming of spring,” sings Waits. That message in the song is something I, along with the S/ team, wanted to capture in this issue. For every negative headline or mind-boggling item of news, there’s a powerful voice to counter it. We wanted to recognize the positivity the world is still capable of producing and present our vision of why spring is the happiest, most transformative, and the most infectious season.
Photography by Justin Aranha
Hair and Makeup by Tami El Sombati