Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
March 19, 2007
St Joseph's Day
My Season: Starting Over
Blog Update: Thoreau and Me
Living in Season: Recipes for Persian New Year
Holiday Packet: Easter
Signs of Spring
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My Season: Starting Over
I didn't do so well on my Candlemas pledge, which was to post an entry to my blog, Living In Season, every week and draw something every day. My only excuse is that I've been swamped at work (I just hate admitting that, since I'm such an ardent advocate of Slow Time). Everything I do is about timeliness and it's embarrassing for me to admit that I've been unable to meet my commitments because I don't have enough time.
Luckily time has a solution for me. A new New Year. The Persians have always celebrated the new year at Spring Equinox with the wonderful holiday of Nawruz. And in some way, you might say, Nawruz was the start of my career as a calendar priestess. It was the first new holiday I adopted and made my own, back when I was a college student. I found a brief (two-sentence description) of it in an almanac back in the 1970's and began celebrating it with my college roommates. We would put a candle in the middle of the living room and jump over it on Red Wednesday, to get rid of all the things we didn't want to bring forward into the new year. Once my daughter was born, it became a family tradition.
I've been celebrating Nawruz (also known as Norooz) for years and I'm always learning something new about it. This year I found a wonderful book about Persian food that provided me with more authentic recipes to try (see the article below).
May you enjoy a fresh start to your year (if you need one).
New Moon Eclipse
This new year may be especially powerful as it opens with a new moon (March 18) in the last degree of Pisces. Claudia at Moonsurfing writes that "big-time completion, deep change, and rebirth are all ready to be kicked off." Of course, you have to do some spring-cleaning first. It's time to give up old habits and illusions, especially the belief that you must suffer to accomplish your dreams.
For more on this new moon, go to Claudia's website:
It's spring, flowers full and happiness in the green-grass vine
All the blossoms are blooming except mine
Lose not heart, free spirit, on New Year's day
I heard from the lips of a lily today
Do not sing the seven illusions this New Year's eve I beg thee:
Complaint, curse, corruption, cacophony, clumsiness, chaos & cruelty.
The seven symbols make, of serene greenery, scented hyacinth and sweet apple
Senged, samanou, salway and song spell.
Send the seven symbols to the table of a lover.
Throw the seven illusions to the door of an ill wisher.
It?s New Year's eve: rid the heart of darkness
Eventually this black night will turn to light and brightness
Carry out the New Year tradition and God willing
Bring back the feeling to that of the excellent beginning.
Living in Season: New Norooz Recipes
When I first learned about Persian New Year, all I knew was that it was customary to eat seven foods whose names started with S. Since I didn't know the Farsi words for the foods, my daughter and I celebrated for years by eating spaghetti squash, spinach salad with sunflower seeds, smoked salmon and strawberries and shortbread for dessert.
In recent years, thanks to the internet, we've enjoyed traditional recipes like kookoo sabzi (an herb frittata recipe I've included in the Eostre packet) and a yogurt and spinach dip (the white and green colors symbolize spring). This year, also thanks to the internet, I was able to find a book about Persian cooking, Food of Life, by Najmieh Batmanglij, which provided me with the poem above, and some new information for Nawruz.
According to Batmanglij, meals are traditionally served on a sofreh, a cotton tablecloth embroidered with poems and prayers, of course, in the beautiful calligraphy of the Iranian language. This idea fascinates me as I wonder how I could create a sacred cloth that would embody prayers and poems. English words are not quite as visually gorgeous. Perhaps I could make a tablecloth embroidered with spring flowers to use every Nawruz.
As with the Easter and the Passover table, setting the table for Nawruz is part of the ceremony. Each item has its symbolism. Batmanglij says the seven S's sabzeh (sprouts) samanou (a dish of wheat germ or lentils), sib (apples), sonbol (hyacinth), senjed (jujube), seer (garlic) and somagh (sumac) represent the seven good angels, heralds of life and rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy and beauty.
Whenever I see the buds appear on my neighbor's contorted filbert, I know that Nawruz is approaching as that is the gnarled branch I always pick to put on my table to represent the twisting paths of life. Batmanglij says I should have seven branches from gnarled trees (olive and pomegranate) on my table.
According to Batmanglij, Iranians always eat noodles at the start of anything new. They represent the choice of paths that life offers us. Picking your way through the tangled strands symbolized picking out the best paths in life. So noodles are eaten on Nawruz, the New Year, and also on the third day after friends or relatives have left on a trip (to help them find their way. Eating this soup on the eve of Nawruz will make a wish come true. The traditional noodle soup is called Ash-e Reshteh. You can find a recipe for it here:
Another dish served on the eve of Nawruz is Ajeel-e Moshgel Goshah (which means unraveller of difficulties), a mix of seven dried fruits and nuts: pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, peach raisin and fig.
Fish is another traditional dish served on Nawruz because it brings good luck. Batmanglij provides a recipe for a dish called Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi, or Rice with Fresh Herbs and Fish.
3 cups of long-grain (preferably basmati) rice
1/2 cup chopped chives or scallions
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped parsley
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh dill
2/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp ground saffron, dissolved in 2 T hot water
3 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 whole leeks, thoroughly washed
1 large white-fleshed fish, about 3 pounds
1/2 cup flour for dredging
4 T oil
Juice of 2 bitter oranges, or 2 lemons
Cook the rice. In a pot, heat half the butter with a drop of the dissolved saffron. Add 2 spatulas of rice and 1 spatula of the herbs, garlic cloves and leeks. Repeat, arranging the rice in the shape of a pyramid. Pour over it the remaining butter, and half the saffron and hot water. Place a clean dishtowel or paper towel over the pot and cover with a lid. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat and then 50 minutes over low heat. While the rice is cooking, clean the fish (if necessary) and cut into six pieces. Wash and pat dry. Dredge in a mixture of flour and salt. Brown fish in the oil in a skillet, over a low heat. Remove the saucepan of rice from the heat and allow to cool for five minutes. Open the pot and remove 2 T of the saffron-flavored rice and set it aside for a garnish. Using a spatula, gently remove the rest of the rice and set it on a platter, without disturbing the crust at the bottom of the pan. This golden crust is a prized part of the meal and is set on a separate platter. Arrange the fish on a serving platter and garnish it with the bitter-orange or lemon juice and the remaining saffron.
Sweets are also an important part of Nawruz, as decorations on the table and a way of invoking sweetness for the coming year, so baklava would make a great dessert. Here's a recipe from Batmanglij (she mentions in her book, but not this recipe, that you can use purchased filo pastry dough instead of making your own):
Batmanglij, Najmieh, Food of Life, Mage Publishers 1986
Holiday Packet: Eostre/Spring Equinox
It's time to order the Eostre packet if you want to receive it in time to celebrate the joyous mid-spring feast also known as Norooz, St. Joseph's Day or Spring Equinox. (You have a little more time to prepare for Easter and Passover (also included) as they fall in April this year.) This illustrated portfolio contains 50 pages of ideas for celebrating including how to:
- Make tansy pies, hot cross buns and other traditional Eostre foods
- Decorate eggs the Ukrainian way, using symbol and ritual
- Use food items and plants to create natural dyes
- Play traditional games like cracking eggs, egg rolling and pace egging
- And much more.
I've reproduced the pages on the sacred meaning of dyed eggs, and on my Ukrainian egg decorating ritual from the Eostre packet as free samples on the website. You can download them here.
It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order through our Store.
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
- Slow time down
- Consult your soul while creating your schedule
- Make time for what's truly important in your life
- Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$20 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, go to our Store.
Signs of Spring
For a few months it was hard to find a flower I could write about in my flower blog but right now I'm overwhelmed with choices. On my way to the library today in a soft rain, I walked past quince blossoms, cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, daffodils, magnolias, clematis, daphne odora, forsythia, hyacinths, crocuses, violas and lungwort, and lots of other flowers whose names I don't know.
Pilar says the sign of Spring she treasures most in Boulder is the sound of water. She wrote on March 18,
"Why do I find myself so excited by this unexpected dampness each March? I suppose it could be the lovely tinseled sound of raindrops falling through pine needles. But more importantly, the rain coats everything with a glistening sheen, deepening the colors that have become drab through the length of Winter, washing away the dry dusty muck left by the snowmelt that has covered car and home and garden for weeks now. For me, the first sign of Spring isn't a sight but a sound, a chorus of water like manna, that clears the dust of old Winter out of my lungs and announces a season of hope and color."
Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and we will post them at the website at Signs of the Season.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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