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A "Haft Seen" setting in Tehran, Iran

Haft Seen, otherwise known as Haft Sīn (Persian: هفت‌سین‎) or the seven 'S's is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft seen table includes seven items all starting with the letter sīn (س) in the Perso-Arabic alphabet. Haft-Seen was originally called Haftchin (Haftĉin) derived from the words Chin (چین), meaning "gather; pile up"[1] and Haft (هفت), the number 7.[2] The Haft Chin table includes the following items which symbolize Zoroastrian yazatas or divinities such as ātar and asmān.

The term and therefore the original custom was changed due to the digraph Ch (چ) not being present in the Arabic language leading to its replacement by the letter S (س). The invasion of Sassanid Persia by the Umayyad Caliphate in 650 brought acculturation and cultural transformation to the local Persians. This subsequently forced the local population to adapt and replace many Zoroastrian customs and words with Arabic and Islamic concepts. "Zoroastrianism was replaced by Islam as the religion of the rulers of Iran" [3] The Arabic language was heavily enforced upon the conquered from the local Persians and other Iranian speaking populations throughout Greater Iran and the surrounding areas. The Arab conquests dramatically changed the Middle East and North Africa in respect to language, culture, and religion. The Arabic assimilation of the Persians and other Iranian groups continued under the Abbasid Empire until the revival of the Persian language and culture by the Samanid Empire in 819 although the term and custom of Haft Chin had evolved into Haft Seen after nearly two centuries of Arab rule.

The "Haft Chin" items are:

  1. Mirror – symbolizing Sky
  2. Apple – symbolizing Earth
  3. Candles – symbolizing Fire
  4. Golab – rose water symbolizing Water
  5. Sabzeh – wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
  6. Goldfish – symbolizing Animals
  7. Painted Eggs – symbolizing Humans and Fertility

The Haft Seen items are:

  1. Sabzeh - (Persian: سبزه‎)-wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
  2. Samanu - (Persian: سمنو‎)-sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
  3. Senjed - (Persian: سنجد‎)-dried oleaster Wild Olive fruit - symbolizing love
  4. Sir - (Persian: سیر‎)- garlic - symbolizing medicine
  5. Sib - (Persian: سیب‎)- apples - symbolizing beauty and health
  6. Somāq - (Persian: سماق‎)sumac fruit - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  7. Serkeh - (Persian: سرکه‎) - vinegar - symbolizing old-age and patience

Mary Boyce described a traditional Sharifabadi Zoroastrian New Years observance as including:[4]

  • Sabzeh - Sprouts from seven different kinds of seeds
  • clay figures, whitewashed (favorites being domestic animals, cows, donkeys, sheep, camel, nightingale, peacock, also household objects such as sugar-loaf, bowls, or a three-legged stool). These "bear witness to the triumphant works of creation."
  • a mirror
  • a low brazier full of fire
  • a lamp
  • sprays of cypress or pine
  • pomegranates
  • painted eggs
  • Shahnameh, by Abolqasem Ferdowsi



  1. ^ MacKenzie, D. N. (1990). A concise pahlavi dictionary. London: Oxford University press. p.22
  2. ^ MacKenzie, D. N. (1990). A concise pahlavi dictionary. London: Oxford University press. p.39
  3. ^ Daryaee, T. (2012). The Oxford handbook of Iranian history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p.208
  4. ^ Boyce, Mary. A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism. Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press, 1977, pp. 215, 217, 49, 170, and Pl. IVa.

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