Signs that spring is here
By Katie Thomas and Victor Chen.
Newsday, New York
March 21, 1999
Here are the conventional signs of spring: red-breasted robins, daffodil
shoots, fresh-cut grass and white patent leather shoes.
But for many Long Islanders, the new season is marked by different harbingers.
For the Iranian community, the vernal equinox - at 8:46 p.m. yesterday
- commenced the Iranian New Year, Now-Ruz. For charter boat captains, yesterday's
opening of the flounder season marked the seasons' change. And animal shelter
workers know warmer days are afoot when they are inundated with kittens
and puppies, which proliferate around this time.
At the Hanson home in Rockville Centre, spring was captured in the sweet
smell of hyacinths. The family typically decorates the house with the fragrant
flowers to mark the coming of the Iranian New Year, 1378. The holiday goes
back to the time of the Persian Empire more than 2,000 years ago and is
still celebrated in the empire's former lands, including Iran.
"It brings back many memories," said Sherry Hanson, 43, a
nutritionist who was born in Iran and came with her mother to the United
States in 1973. "My mother always made sure, when we came to the country,
to celebrate Now-Ruz so that we had that."
Her mother, Mahin Stutman, prepared the traditional foods and decorations
for the night's celebration - among the cornucopia, rice cookies made with
rosewater, called nanberenji, and a medley of nuts known as agilmoshelgosha.
A table in the corner bears potted hyacinths as well as a gold-gilded tray
with the customary seven Now-Ruz good-luck charms, including apples, garlic,
sprouts and candy that in the Farsi language begin with the letter "s."
The whole family - including her mother, husband, Kurt, and two daughters
Tanya, 13, and Alexandra, 9 - were throwing a party at their home to ring
in the New Year, in observation of their Iranian heritage and their Baha'i
faith, which also recognizes the holiday. "I never in my life missed
one Now-Ruz, and I want my children and grandchildren to celebrate this
beautiful holiday," Stutman said, adding that last night she and many
friends - Iranians and non-Iranians - will start the new year with embraces
and the exchanging of gifts.