Visitors will find it extremely unique when getting to know the Iranian traditional and customs when traveling to Iran. For culture seekers, Iranian customs has a lot to learn from. History lovers will find Iran a destination full of magnificent ruins from the ancient cities, glorious mosques and mausoleums, and museums so interesting they’re bound to leave your feet sore.
The more adventurous travelers can enjoy trekking, budget-priced skiing, or swooping off cliffs strapped to a hang-glider. For the traveller who doesn’t mind covering up (preferably not in a stars and stripes poncho) and eschewing ale and heartfelt feminist discourse.
Iranian religious customs and events
The national festivals and traditional celebrations in Iran are separated from those religious ceremonies. Just about everything that can close will close on a religious holiday, so it’s important to know when they fall. Iran’s religious holidays and customs follow the Muslim lunar calendar, so the dates according to the Western calendar vary each year. Major events include Ramazan, the month of dawn to dusk fasting; Eid-é Fetr, the one day festival of feasting that marks the end of Ramazan; Ghadir-é Khom, which commemorates the day that the Prophet Mohammed appointed Emam Ali his successor; and the birthday of Mohammed. However, National holidays follow the Persian solar calendar, but still usually fall on the same day each year according to the Western calendar.
Iranian culture and traditional custom
Iran’s unique customs are at its most striking cultural feature – it pervades all aspects of life. The most visible daily expressions of Iran’s brand of fundamentalist Shi’ite Islam are the modest dress code and behaviour at mosques. However, other expressions of the culture can be seen in its hearty cuisine, its phenomenal woven carpets.
Nowruz: Celebrate traditional Iranian new year
Nowruz, or, no-rooz, in direct translate, means “A New Day” and it is celebrated as a traditional Persian / Iranian new year which is started on the first day of the spring according to the astronomical calendar. No-rooz has been celebrate in Iran since at least 3000 years by the Zoroastrians and later Elamites and Achaemenian. The prove of Iranian traditional new year, no-rooz is depicted on the rock cliffs in Persepolis, a world heritage site near the city of Shiraz in southern Iran.
Regardless of being a tradition, Iranian celebrate no-rooz new year as their biggest and most important custom for entire nation and before the first day of the new year, Iranian take time usually 2-3week prior the new year to clean their houses off dust [khan-e Tekaani], wash carpets, re-paint the entrance door and try to re-new as much as possible. People buy new clothes and prepare for the coming 2week national holiday marked as the Iranian new year. The most important part of Iranian Traditional New Year is to set up the “Haft Seen” which literally means to prepare for seven natural elements starting by letter “S”. This is back to the history where each of these 7 elements represents the seven creations in the earth dating back to the Zoroastrian time. Iranian believe these 7 elements will bring them happiness and it’s a sign of evolvement.
These seven elements usually are: Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (vinager), Samanoo (a porridge made from the wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic).
Nowruz is the Persians’ longest and most cherished festivity and a custom to celebrate by every Iranian all around the world, on which all Iranians celebrate the New Year with the nature’s resurrection from withered winter. It is deeply rooted in Zoroastrianism and counts as the oldest Iranian festival. Nowruz ancientness, variety, colorfulness, and rich symbolism mark it off from its peers in other nations and countries.
Chaharshanbeh Suri: An Iranian custom to celebrate on the last Wednesday of each year
Another of Iranian tradition is a custom named Chaharshanbe-soori. On the Tuesday night before the last Wednesday of the year chahar shanbe-soori, which means, the lucky Wednesday Fire, people get together and set a bunch of fire, they sing, dance, play music and jump over fires. The jumping is actually the burning away of illness, bad luck or health, unfortunate and all the bad signs, to be replaced by the healthy redness of the flames.
“Give me your fiery red color/ take back my wintry sallowness.” The Chaharshanbe Suri or Red Wednesday, counts among the only two extant one of those fire-connected festivities. It is an annual ritual which is held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year.
From among the Aryan festivals and feasts, some of the most important ones pertained to fire, the symbol of good health, cultivation, light, and purity to the Iranian. Chaharshanbe-Suri, “The Red Wednesday”, counts among the only two extant one of those fire-connected festivities. It is an annual ritual which is held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year.
It is believed that the ritual guarantees the dissipation of the misfortunes and evils, and of course, the materialization of people’s hopes and desires for the next year. It dates back to before the Arab Conquest of Iran; when the Iranian year was made up of 360 days with 5 extra days during which the Zoroastrians would build fires to invite their ancestors’ ghosts to their homes. On the other hand, we know that the Arabs believed that Wednesday was inauspicious. So, the people shifted their ritual to the eve of Tuesday (in the Arabian calendar, a day begins and finishes at dusk) to save the Iranian tradition and an important custom against the ill will of the Arabs.
Yalda: A very old Persian custom and tradition back in millennium
Yalda, the victory of light over darkness, this is yest another custom and tradition in iran to which Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness. Considered the longest night of the year, Yalda eve is the night when ancient Iranians celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light. Every 21st of December Iranians celebrate Yalda which means birth in Syriac. It is believed that when this night ends, days become longer as light (Sun) has defeated darkness. Ancient Persians believed that evil forces were dominant on the longest night of the year and that the next day belonged to the Lord of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda. The Persians would burn fires all night to ensure the defeat of evil. They would hold feasts, raise charity, honor their deities and pray to the goddess Mithra. As Yalda coincides with the beginning of winter, people also celebrated the end of the previous harvest by eating dried and fresh fruits and praying to the deities for a bumper winter crop next year.
One of the main features of the Yalda festival was the temporary subversion of order, which lasted up to the Sassanid period. Masters served servants, children headed the family and a mock king was crowned. Today the Yalda festival is a time when family members gather at the home of the elders until after midnight. Guests are served with dried fruits, nuts, and winter fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, which symbolize the red color of dawn in the sky. They also practice bibliomancy with the poetry of the highly respected mystic Iranian poet Hafez. Persians believe whenever one is faced with difficulties or has a general question, one can ask the poet for an answer. Hafiz sings to the questioner in his own enigmatic way and allows individuals to look in the mirror of their soul through his poems.
Taarof: A traditional custom OR a word of politeness in Iran?
Taafor, is a systematic custom and tradition in Iran and is a polite way you get into it from the first moment you enter in Iran. Generally, Tarrof comes to you when you are about to pay for pretty much everything, your hotel receptionist expects you to pay for your stay [its obvious], but, before you pay, he will tell you “ghabeli Nadare”, which means My done, or Nothing, of course he expect you to pay for your stay and you will pay for it at the end but his word of politeness called “Taarof” an ettiquete and custom in Iran which you hear a lot.
Another example of Taarof; you and a group of friends going to meet at one’s house and before you enter, they keep forcing you to step into the house before the owner. “Khahesh Mikonam befarmaeed dakhel” means, please, after yo!! Or you will be impressed the way other Iranian friends Taarof before entering the house. They basically push and force each other to get into the house before one another.
For drinking the tea, the host asking you if you would want a cup of tea, you will say no, thank you, but the host bring you a cup of tea, eventually that’s because the host thinking you are “Taarofing” and the host just want to make you comfortable by taking you another cup of tea.
Or, before eating, your Iranian friend asking you “Befarmaeed”, means enjoy your meal, they expect you to start eating before them, this Taarof is just another word of politeness that comes from the deep root of Iranian custom and traditions.
Food & Drinks: Customs and etiquette in Iranian dining
Custom and etiquette in Iranian food and drink has its own long tradition, at its best, Iranian cuisine is very good and seriously, its mouth watering. It’s heavily based on rice, bread, fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit. Meat, usually lamb or mutton minced or cut into small chunks, is used to add flavour but is rarely the dominant ingredient, except in kebabs. Sadly for travellers, this usually translates into the same two or three standard dishes of kebabs or chicken, with rice, vegetables and bread – you need to be invited into homes or splurge on upmarket hotels to eat the best Iranian food. The national drink of Iran is undoubtedly chay (tea), always served scalding hot, black and strong. All sorts of delicious fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and yoghurt drinks are available throughout Iran. Alcohol is strictly forbidden to Islamic Iranians, though it is permitted for religious purposes, such as communion wine in churches, and to non-Muslims with special permission.
A very typical and common dish in Iran is kebab; this is served in most eating-houses. It is good , either beef or chicken , but it is possible to have too many. When served with rice it is called Chelo Kebab.
Dishes that are well worth trying are:
- Fesenjoon: A stew of duck , chicken or beef made with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste.
- Ghorme Sabzi: Stew with lamb or veal with spinach and other herbs ,red beans and dried lemon.
- Abgoosht: Broth, made with chunks of lambs , lentils and potatoes served in a special dish. The soup is poured out into a bowl and the meat and vegetables are pounded. Usually eaten with bread as a main course.
- Baghali Pulo: Rice mixed with broad beans and dill with either veal , lamb , chicken or fish.
Tea , drink without milk , could be said to be the national drink. Doogh (a yoghurt drink usually served with meals) makes a pleasant change from other soft drinks , while non-alcoholic beer is usually available. Alcohol is strictly forbidden
Evolution of Iran from history to contemporary
The first distinct people to emerge on the Iranian plateau were probably the Elamites, who established a city at Shush in the far south-west. The Aryans, people of Iran who introduce with a variety of customs and traditional etiquette in Iran, came to the region in the second millennium BC, bringing with them some agricultural and domestic skills. It wasn’t until the middle of the 6th century BC, when the Achaemenian king Cyrus the Great ruled the region, that Persian history was documented. The Achaemenian Dynasty is recognized as the founder of the Persian Empire, leading to the eventual creation of Iran.
In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great invaded Persia after conquering most of Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. Despite three conciliatory offers from Darius III for a negotiated peace, Alexander entered Shush. From there, he took some time to cross the mountains to the east, but eventually entered Persepolis. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the empire was divided into three squabbling dynasties, with Persia controlled by the Macedonian Seleucids. But the Seleucids had problems controlling the numerous feisty ethnic minorities, in particular the nomadic Parthians who came to control most of Persia until the 3rd century AD. The Sassanians came from the central regions of Persia not under direct control of the Parthians. They were an industrious Zoroastrian gang who promoted urban development and encouraged trade, but who eventually set to squabbling and were overrun by the Arabs in 637.
The Arabs ruled until 1050, converting most of the population to Islam and introducing the new Persian script and Islamic culture. They were brought down by a Turkish dynasty, which captured Esfahan in 1051. Despite numerous rebellions, the Turks hung onto power until they were swept clean away by Genghis Khan’s rampaging Mongols in the early 13th century. When the Mongols ran out of leaders in the late 14th century, the Timurid Dynasty filled the breach, but was then pressured by Turkmen tribes, Ottoman Turks and European colonialists such as Portugal.
The ensuing Safavid Dynasty (1502-1722) was one of the great Persian empires which brought much of Iran traditions and customs we have today. The brilliant Shah Abbas I and his successors enshrined Shi’ism and rebuilt Esfahan, but the dynasty’s decline was hastened by Afghan invasions in the early 18th century. The Afghans couldn’t hold power and Iran was ruled by a succession of variously mad, bad and benevolent rulers until the even badder, Agha Muhammed Khan, a eunuch, united the Turkish Ghajars in 1779 and went on to establish a capital in Tehran. The Ghajar kings ruled a relatively peaceful Iran until 1921, managing to remain neutral during WWI, but were not able to prevent a partial occupation by British forces keen to ensure a constant supply of oil.
One of the last Ghajar kings introduced the idea of elections and a legislative assembly (called the Majlis), but it wasn’t until the charismatic Persian Reza Khan came along in 1923 that the idea stuck. Reza became prime minister, and commenced the huge task of dragging the country into the 20th century. Iran (the name was officially adopted in 1934) was again neutral during WWII but Britain and Russia established spheres of influence there to shut out Germany. In 1941, Reza was forced into exile in South Africa and his son, Mohammed Reza, succeeded him. After the war, the USA helped persuade the Russians to leave, the young Shah regained absolute power and Iran became firmly aligned with the West.
Facts about Iran you should know
Home to one of the world’s most ancient civilizations and yet the most misunderstood country of current time . Birthplace of Zoroaster , Hafez and Khayam. Former seat of once biggest royal kingdom on the surface of earth, whose remnants are allover from India throughout Middle east . Iran is like nowhere else. But perhaps you should see it for yourself: the hospitality of the people of Iran that wonderfully complements the lands’ rich culture and unique landscape.
There are too many places that you can visit and learn more about traditional custom while in Iran: Isfahan the jewel of Iran art and architecture, Shiraz, the cradle of oldest empire and beauty of south, Yazd a hidden pearl in the heart of Iran central desert with its friendly people and Zoroastrian heritage …etc You’ll find each place in this land has its own distinct personality and offers its own mysteries and beauties for you to explore in your own way. We invite you to explore all of Iran to find the unique experience of your life, perhaps.
It is officially called the Islamic Republic of Iran , formerly known internationally as Persia , people rather to call it simply “Iran” .The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan, and means “Land of the Aryans”
The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area roughly equals to the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany
Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC
Iran GDP by 278 Billion $ is 29th highest in the world. Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves and third in oil reserves
Tehran is the capital and Iranian Rial is the currency, which an approximate exchange rate of 9200 rials per US$.
The Culture of Iran is a mix of ancient pre-Islamic culture and Islamic culture
The cuisine of Iran is diverse, with each province featuring dishes, as well as culinary traditions and styles, distinct to their regions. The main Persian cuisines are combinations of rice with meat, chicken or fish and some onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs.
Two thirds of Iran’s population are under the age of 25, makes it one of theyoungest countries in the world. Iran is the birthplace of polo sport, named Chogan in ancient time
Iran political structure is highly complex and a Theo-democracy. People get to vote to vetted candidates.0