As you will all know, alcohol is not available in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So it was with some incredulity that I discovered that non-alcoholic beerlike drinks ma'osh-sha'ir' are available.
As Queen Victoria is said to have observed when confronted with a merkin, 'can such things be....'
Whilst the original flavour is of course malt, many others exist. You can try out lemon, pomegranate, strawberry, ginger(!) and even pineapple (use of which is a capital offence on pizza, so god knows what the penalty for using it in beer would be!)
Russian made Baltiki tastes most like beer, though most brands don't really try too hard. The most common is Delster (indeed, drinks menus will often use the generic term 'delster' or 'delester' to describe these drinks).
They are refreshing after a hard days sightseeing, though sometimes overly sweet.
When planning a journey to Iran, the most notable impediment to getting agreement from my wife Minuk was the problem of the hijab.
There is no escaping this. If you are female, and you are planning to visit Iran, then you must wear the hijab.
Just a note for the uninformed - this is NOT the all encompassing chador or niqab, but instead a scarf which covers the hair, and a shirt (or manteau) which covers the arms and extends below the waist, concealing one's shape. trousers are worn, rather than a skirt.
The issues are:
- particularly for those unused to it, the hijab makes one hot and uncomfortable, significantly reducing the bodies ability to lose heat.
- whilst females have to cover their shape, males get to wear comfortable clothing - no evidence of shape concealment, kind of exposing the double standard
The agreed solution. We'd travel in April, when the climate was relatively cool. We'd stay only 20 days. At the end of the trip, the manteaus (bought from the opportunity shop) were released to the wild. During the trip we found that one can secure the scarf at the neck with a clip rather than tying the thing
The locals do have an interesting attitude to the headscarf. There seems to be a contest to see just how far back one can wear the scarf on the head and not have it fall off. Advantages in this contest are to have long hair, worn up such that the scarf hangs on it!
On the flight out of Iran, scarfs were removed before the plane had left the ground!
The details of Norouz celebrations before the Achaemenid era are not known.
During Achaemenid, in 487 B.C.E., Darius the Great celebrated the Norouz at his newly built Persepolis.
A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 06-30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1400-1 years.
It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish new years. It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. The Persepolis was the place, the Achaemenian king received, on Norooz, his peoples from all over the vast empire.
The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.
Shahanshah sat in the veranda of their palace during Norouz celebrations receiving representatives of different states who offered their precious gifts to the kings.
It is said that Darius the Great, an Achaemenid king (421-486 B.C.), visited the temple of Ba'al Mardook, the great deity in ancient Babylon, at the outset of every new year.
Norouz was the holiday of Arsacid/Parthian era (248 BC-224 AD). There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I (51-78 AD), but these include no details.
Under the Sassanid (224-651 AD), Norouz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Norouz such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanian era and persisted unchanged until modern times.
During the Sassanid time, preparations began at least 25 days before Norouz.
12 pillars of mud-bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Various vegetable seeds-wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others-were sown on top of the pillars.
The great king held his public audience and the High Priest of the empire was the first to greet him. Government officials followed next. Each person offered a gift and received a present. The audience lasted for five days, each day for the people of a certain profession.
Then on the sixth day, called the Greater Norooz, the king held his special audience. He received members of the Royal family and courtiers. Also a general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes.
The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close. The occasion was celebrated, on a lower level, by all peoples throughout the empire.
After Islam invasion, There are records of the Four Great greedy Caliphs & Omayyad presiding over Nowruz celebrations,wishing to increase their revenues through Norouz gifts.
It was adopted as the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period.
Following the demise of the Caliphate, the Persian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Norouz was elevated to an even more important event.
The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanid times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the Caliphate.
After the Mongol invasion, as any other national tradition, Norouz last its significance.
In the Safavid era, Norouz flourished again.
After the Safavid dynasty the Norouz celebration maintained its status and was regularly observed in royal courts. Nader Shah celebrated Norouz even in time of war.
In the Qajar era, the Norouz tradition was preserved, the Qajar monarches presented outfits, horses, money and adornments to their troops.
The common people also celebrated Norouz gloriously.
Norouz, (=new day), is the celebration of spring equinox & the traditional Iranian new year holiday.
It is the most cherished of all the Iranian festivals and is celebrated by all.
It has been observed by all peoples of the Greater Iran for 6 millennia. Norouz commemorates the periodic rebirth and rejuvenation of nature, and has been observed in one form or another by all the major cultures that came in touch with Iranian culture.
Today, Norouz is still celebrated annually in a wide arc of territory extending from the Anatolia and Indus River to the east, the Caspian Sea to the north, the Black and Mediterranean Seas to the west, and the Persian Gulf to the south:
Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Albania, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Northwestern China, the Crimea, and the Balkans.
Norouz, The first day on the Iranian calendar falls on the spring equinox, the first day of spring. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres.
next new year will start on 15:14:00(for Tehran) of 1st of Farvardin (20th March) (89/2010)
Actually it isn’t a local custom Iranian tip - it’s more local custom Pakistani tip (because we flew over Iran by Pakistan International Airlines). As I have already written our company of four Russian men was almost alone in the second economy cabin because the airplane was empty at three quarters.
So we attracted special attention of the attendants - we were playing cards, drinking vodka and making fun. It seemed to me that the attendants even envied us and were interested in what we were making fun. When the captain went to see us and have a talk with us we were really happy. But when he learnt than we work in the field of civil aviation and we are colleagues he was very pleased as well. We took several photos together.
The whole Pakistani crew was very friendly with us as if we had been acquainted and knew each other for a long time (or perhaps it only seemed to us because we were slightly drunken, haha?).
But there is another Russian local custom about which I want to write on my Iranian page. Only few of you know that when Russians want to pass time away they try to play cards and the most popular cards game is Preferans (another name Pul'ka).
And it was that very game which we played being slightly drunken all our flight from Moscow to Dubai and back and all our flight over Iran, haha!
Actually once again this local custom tip on Iran page isn’t Iranian tip! It’s more local custom Russian tip! You know that all Russians love vodka and this drink is the most beloved drink in Russia (especially for true men, haha!). When you fly by economy class you can’t wait that you will be proposed such a drink. So if you are Russians and you are traveling with friends you have to buy vodka in duty free shop and bring it to the airplane.
That was what we usually do! This Russian local custom is well-known over the world and you often saw drunken Russians while traveled by air, haha! That was what our fellow travelers and Pakistani crew saw while they were watching our company and thought: “Oh, those Russians!”.
You cannot have a meal in Iran without a box of tissues. Whether it was in the best or simplest restaurant or someone's home, you will always find a box of tissues to go with your meal. I like this custom a lot. It should be adopted by every country in the world. How many times have you ended up with dirty hands and face and either had nothing or some scratch old piece of cloth napkin. Enjoy.
The first few times I saw these boxes I understood right away that the slot in the top was to put money in. What I didn’t know was for what. In Tehran (and some other cities) there are hundreds of these metal boxes on the side of roads where cars park. They are strong large steel boxes that are clearly anchored into the pavement. Oddly, they come in different colours and styles. I naturally assumed that it was how people pay for car parking. It’s not. They are actually charity collection boxes.
Please note: before you put money in one you may want to make sure the Charity involved does not have a political wing you do not agree with.
Haft Sin (=seven 'S's) is a major tradition of Norouz.
The haft sin table includes seven items specificly starting with the letter Sin (=S).
The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals protecting them.
The Haft Sin has evolved over time, but has kept its symbolism.
Norouz was/is most important festival for Aryan people, & for this important festival they used/use best thing that they had, prepare best foods, wear best cloths, prepare beautiful table, cleaning house & etc.
The History Haft Sin isn't clear,
some claimed During Achaemenid, It was Haft Chin(=4 'CH's), stands for seven Chini(=porcelain) containers of 7 foods.
or seven Chidani(=item to Put) as put seven containers of 7 foods.
the bas-reliefs at Takht-e Jamshid (Persepolis) depict seven people from each country carrying NoRouz gifts.
& some claimed in Sassanid era, It was Haft Shin(=4 'SH's), & the Seven Items were:
Shemshad: branches of boxtree
Shaghaiegh: a flower
after Arab invasion, Sharab(=Wine) is forbidden replaced by Serkeh(=vinegar) & also some names arabicazed Chini(=porcelain) changed to Sini(=metal tray).
SHin was changed to Sin, but has kept its symbolism.
thereby making it possible to preserve the ancient Zoroastrian culture and custom in Islamic Iran.
The Number Seven was significant among Aryan people, & mainly in Mithraeism religion that has been replaced to Christianity.
The real significance of seven was to represent the 6 Amshaspandan(=archangels) plus God.
Vohu Manah: Bahman = Good Purpose or mind
Asha Vahishta: Ardibehesht = Best Righteousness
KhShathra Vairya:Shahrivar = Desirable Dominion
Spenta Armaiti: Sepandarmaz = Holy Devotion
Haurvatat: Khordad = Wholeness
Ameretat: Amordad = Immortality
Ahura Mazda = God, The wise Lord
Jashan-e Esfandegan or Sepandarmaz is a festivity to honor of Women, Mothers, Love & Earth.
it's roots back to pre Zoroastrian Iran & female Goddesses.
29th day of the Iranian month of Bahman( 8th of Feb), is the day of Esfandgan celebrations.
In Zoroastrian religion, the whole month and especially this day marks commemoration of women, the oldest of its kind in the world.
In Zoroastrian religion the day belongs to the Spenta Armaeiti, the symbol of love and humbleness in the spiritual world and the guardian of the earth in the material one.
In the ancient Iranian tradition, women set aside the house chores and put the responsibility on the shoulders of their men for just one day. The men were also supposed to offer their women gifts.
To mark the day, the family would wake up earlier, cleaned the house, and celebrated the day by cooking Âsh - a kind of Iranian soup like stow - with special Zoroastrian bread.
In Iran they like big money. Outside of some banks you will have to use exchange shops and the bigger the better. A $100 note gets a better rate than a $50 and so on. It’s a sliding scale. So you may want to bring a few big notes.
The prefered currencies are (in order):
* US Dollars
* British Pounds
One of the best things in Iran is how people are curious about foreigners but not boring.
If they don't speak English, at least they'll ask:
Welcome to my country !
That's "street talk" and you'll find it amusing while starting basic conversation.
Other group is people that speak languages, they'll ask you just to exchange few sentences in order to practice. Obey their rules, if lady approach to lady don't interfere much if you're guy, and vice versa.
We felt like a pop stars in a good way.
If you're coming from small country, learn the name of your country in Persian to explain your origin.
Iran uses round 2 pin European-type plugs. The electricity is 220 volts with a frequency of 50hz. If you already use European plugs you are in business. UK type plugs need an adapter that is easily available. North Americans need a very GOOD adapter or their electrical items will simply explode.
Thanks to Suvanki for the photos!
A 'Dizzi' is also known as 'Abgousht'. This is a meat (usually beef), bean and potato stew. But it gets more interesting. It’s all cooked in a pot that is brought to your table. The juice is pored out into a separate bowl (pictured) and is like a kind of soup you eat with flat bread. Then the waiter puts a masher into the small pot and sirs around furiously to make an almost sort of puree placed into a second bowl. I know the word is actually Persia, but I like to think it’s called a Dizzi because watching the waiter stirring can make your head spin. It tastes good and is almost 2 dishes in one.
More Regions in Iran