To experience the most exciting travel to Iran check out the calendar for annual festivals. Actually there are plenty of annual cultural and religious ceremonies and festivals that give you a different perspective of the country.
Nowruz,Navruz,Novruz,Nevruz ( literally means a new day)
It is the Persian spring celebration of the New Year. Actually it takes place in the spring equinox day, when night and day are of equal length. It feels like a new beginning or a fresh start.
People being to prepare for it one month in advance to do something special like housecleaning, to clean the house from dust and dirt, also to throw away unluckiness and devil and invite fortune and light to the life.
All members of the family gather around a traditional table setting (called haftseen/haft-sin/Haftsin) to celebrate the New Year. Nowruz is one of the Unesco intangible cultural heritages of Iran. Haftseen or seven S's stands for:
Seeb (Apple), seer (Garlic), serkeh (Vinegar), somaq (Sumac), sabzeh (Sprouts), samanu (sweet pudding), senjed (sea-buckthorn) and some other varieties such as coin, candle, egg and etc. These are used as symbols.
sizdah be dar
Iranians enjoy the last day of Nowruz/Novruz together and say congratulations for coming spring to the nature. This day is the thirteenth day of Nowruz that is called sizdah be dar or nature day; 'sizdah' means thirteenth and 'be dar 'means to eliminate bad luck of thirteen! In this day people usually go to the green place to camp, barbecue, dance, sing and play some games together. To bring fortune, girls tie grasses and wish to get married then throw their own grasses to the river.
Shaharshanbe Suri (Ancient fire jumping festival)
Shaharshanbe suri or red Wednesday takes place on the last day Tuesday of Iranian year. Most people and families gather to the specific place or other public areas to fire pile of bushes or woods and then jump over that. While they are jumping, they sing a song; “your red color for me, my yellow color for you" which means give me your beautiful red color and take my sickly pallor. Iranians believe that sadness, illness and all bad things burn in fire and bring them happiness instead.
Yaldā night (Winter solstice)
It is the longest night of the year, just a minute longer which means birth! This night is celebrated because of victory of sun and warmth against evil and coldness. Whole family get together in the house of eldest member and stay up all night to have fun and eat nuts, watermelon and pomegranate which are inseperable parts of this celebration. A very respectful part of customs of this night is reading The Divan of Hafiz/Hafez and and other poems out loud as fortune telling verses. This celebration actually strengthens the family bonds as well.
Kashan rosewater festival
Every may, the most interesting traditional festivals of Iran is took place in Kashan. Kashan roswater festival is really popular among Iranians and tourists. The beauty of rose flower, its extraordinary fragrance and also its various applications in persian foods attract numerous visitors annually. Production of rosewater is so stunning which is done traditionally. To watch out the extraction process from boiling to producing or to help in picking up the pink Mohammadi rose blossoms, definitely take part in this unmissable traditional festival.
Tasu'a and Ashura
If you want to have particular insights into the Shia Islam, travel to Iran during Muharram(first month of islamic calendar) to participate in the most significant events of Shia muslims in Iran. In Tasu'a ana Ashura which refer to ninth and tenth of muharram in the Islamic calendar. People mourn for the murder of Husayn ibn Ali (grandson of prophet Mohammad). Iranian mourn is moseques, and streets to in huge groups and through differet shows. A very amazing form of mourning is Ta'zieh (Unesco intangible cultural heritage); it is a kind of street theater and narrative, musical and religious performance which narrate the epic struggle and oppressed martyrdom of Imam hossein and his companions.
Iran is the biggest producer of pomegranate. Annually, in Autumn pomegranate festival is held in the focal cities of Iranian pomegranate production. This jewel-toned fruit is so important and popular among Iranian as variety of products are derived from pomegranate from juice to pomegranate paste that are really practical in persian cuisines. Visitors visit pomegranate orchards in local gardens and the celebrators play musical instruments and sing local songs to amuse people.
The festival of Pir shalyar
Iranian kurdish village of Uraman takht hosts the 1000-year-old festival in the beginning of February every year. Pir shalyar comes from a legendary story about a man was named Pir shalyar who cure a deaf and mute princess from Bukhara and then got married with her in Uraman Takht village. Local people and other people from surrounding villages have been gathering to celebrate the wedding of Pir shalyar and the ancient spiritual ceremony each year. This festival holds in three days with several amazing ceremonies. The first one is that little boys and girls go house to house to collect walnuts, wheat or flour as the main ingredients which are used to make special foods for the ceremony. Then people sacrifice goat, cow or sheep to cook aush (kind of persian soup). Moreover, Darvishes who are recognized by their long hair start to dance while Daf/Def (a persian frame drum) is played with rhythm. This mysterious village attracts thousands of visitors annually not only because of the famous traditional festival also for its adorable architecture of Stair-like houses.
Barfchal/Varfchal traditional ceremony (A village run entirely by women)
In spring two different cultural and religious ceremonies are celebrated each year in the village of Ab-Ask in Mazandaran province. This ceremony is celebrated to store enough snow in well to supply drinking water in hot season. In this festival men perform Varfchal or Barfchal tradition outside the village in the morning, actually they leave the village for the sake of gathering enough frozen snow and pour them into huge holes. While the pits are filled with snow, they come back to the village at noon to join their family. On the other hand, in the absence of men, the village run entirely by women; it is one-day governorship of women and no man is allowed to enter the village. If men don't obey the rules, they will be badly punished. This is Zanshahi tradition which means monarchical rule of woman. A prominent elder woman is chosen as a queen who must be wise with high leadership and problem-solving skills. She listen to women problems patiently and solve them in this day. In addition, other women take responsibility of different parts, some of them become soldier, minister and guards and etc. All women wear beautiful costumes, sing and dance together.