Vernal Equinox/No-rooz

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March brings with it the first day of spring. The vernal equinox. A time for rebirth, and a fresh start, not just in our gardens but in our lives. We got to learn the physical and symbolic importance of the moment when night and day are equal and the sun shines directly on the equator. This important balance in nature, something to strive for in our own lives as well.

Starting March 19, stretching to its modern day version of earth day on April 22, many cultures around the world celebrate this time of year in one fashion or another. Many of these celebrations are markers of a new beginning and treat the vernal equinox as the first day of the New Year.

In North America the Native Americans, are the primary group celebrating this day with prayer, dance and music at the time of the equinox. The most common association with the vernal equinox however is Norooz (new day) celebrated by all Iranians world over and in countries where the Persian Empire ruled thousands of years back.

The tradition of sprouting wheat and growing it in a platter, to be laid on a festive spring table called the Haft Seen (Seven S’s) is where we began our cultural journey three weeks back.

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As the wheat grew slowly, the children learned about the symbolic significance of these seven items laid on the spread – all denoting an aspect of growth, a healthy harvest, healthy lives and bodies, wisdom, wealth, happiness, fertility and eternal sunshine in the new year.

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Even though we weren’t ushering in the equinox at 3.30 am on March 20 together, we did get to eat a traditional Iranian breakfast at 8am on this first day of spring along with boiled eggs painted by our interns and some of the children.

To all our gardens!

Tahereh Sheerazie

Tahereh likes to hike, bike, quilt, cook and most of all garden. She has been a garden ranger with EnrichLa since January 2015. She teaches middle school children, many of whom have special needs which has necessitated a slow, mindful approach to place based garden education. Improving soil, making compost, harvesting water, growing natives and ancient grains and journal writing, is what she enjoys doing most with the children.

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