What Does Haft Seen Symbolize: Exploring the Meanings Behind the Traditional Persian Table

Haft Seen is a traditional table setting that Iranians prepare for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. It consists of seven items that start with the letter “S” in the Persian alphabet. Each of these items symbolizes a concept or hope for the upcoming year. Haft Seen has been an essential part of Iranian culture for centuries, and its symbolism has evolved over time.

The items that are usually on the Haft Seen table are Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts), Samanu (sweet pudding), Senjed (dried fruit), Seer (garlic), Seeb (apple), Somaq (sumac), and Serkeh (vinegar). Together they represent fertility, sweetness, love, health, beauty, patience, and wisdom. Iranians believe that having Haft Seen in the house during the first days of the year brings good luck and prosperity.

Haft Seen is more than just a table decoration; it reflects the cultural values and traditions of Iranians. It has a deeper meaning that goes beyond its physical appearance. The seven items on the table are a reminder of the things that are important in life, such as family, health, and happiness. Haft Seen is a beautiful reflection of the hope and optimism that Iranians have for the future, and it continues to be significant to this day.

History of Haft Seen

Haft Seen is an ancient Persian tradition that dates back to several millennia ago. The practice is believed to have originated from Zoroastrianism, a pre-Islamic religion that flourished in Persia. Haft Seen comprises seven items, each of which symbolizes a significant aspect of life. Haft Seen translates to seven “S” in Persian, and each of the seven items in the Haft Seen begins with the letter “S.”

  • Sabzeh (sprouts) represents rebirth and renewal.
  • Samanu (sweet pudding) symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
  • Senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree) symbolizes love and affection.
  • Sir (garlic) represents health.
  • Sib (apples) represent beauty and fertility.
  • Somaq (sumac spice) represents the color of the sunrise.
  • Serkeh (vinegar) represents age and patience.

The tradition of the Haft Seen has undergone significant changes over the centuries. In ancient times, the items in the Haft Seen were different, and the practice symbolized different aspects of life. For example, instead of samanu, people used to place wine or mead in the Haft Seen. In addition, mirrors, coins, and candles were also part of the Haft Seen tradition, but they have been replaced by different items in modern times.

Haft Seen is one of the most vital cultural practices in Iran and is an integral part of the Persian New Year (Nowruz) celebration, which takes place on the first day of spring. The custom of the Haft Seen is present in various other countries where Persian culture has spread, such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Origins of Haft Seen Traditions

The Haft Seen table is an integral part of the Persian New Year celebration. The table is set with seven items, each starting with the letter “seen” in the Persian alphabet. These symbolic items represent hope, renewal, and prosperity for the coming year.

  • Sabzeh: Sprouts represent rebirth and growth. They are typically grown from wheat or lentil seeds in a dish.
  • Samanu: This sweet pudding is made from wheat germ and is a symbol of affluence and fertility.
  • Senjed: These sweet dried fruit, also known as oleaster or Russian olive, symbolize love and affection.

The number seven holds great significance in the Persian culture and the Haft Seen table is no exception. The number seven is believed to have mystical powers and symbolizes perfection. The seven items on the Haft Seen table are also seen as representing the seven creations and holy immortals in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion.

Haft Seen traditions are believed to have originated over two and a half millennia ago in pre-Islamic Persia. The celebration of the Persian New Year, also known as Nowruz, occurs on the spring equinox and represents the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In addition to the Haft Seen table, Nowruz is celebrated with a variety of traditions including visiting family and friends, exchanging gifts, and participating in outdoor activities.

SabzehRebirth and growth
SamanuAffluence and fertility
SenjedLove and affection

Overall, the Haft Seen table is a visual representation of the hopes and aspirations for the coming year. It is a reminder to cherish life and celebrate the renewal of nature.

Haft Seen and Iranian New Year

Haft Seen is a traditional table setting of seven items that are used to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. The celebration usually lasts for 13 days and is a time for visiting family and friends, exchanging gifts, and reflecting on new beginnings. In this article, we will explore the significance of Haft Seen and its symbolism in Iranian culture.

The Number 3

The number 3 plays a significant role in Haft Seen. Out of the seven items on the table, three of them start with the letter “sin” in Farsi, the Persian language. The letter “sin” represents the sound “s” in English and is considered a lucky letter in Iranian culture. The three items that start with “sin” are:

  • Sabzeh: This is a dish of sprouted wheat, barley, or lentil seeds that are grown in a dish and symbolize rebirth and growth.
  • Sir: This is garlic and is believed to protect against illness and ward off evil spirits.
  • Samanu: This is a sweet pudding made from wheat germ and represents affluence and fertility.

In addition to the three items starting with “sin,” there are also three other items on the table that come in threes:

  • Coins: Three coins representing wealth and prosperity.
  • Apples: Three apples symbolizing beauty and health.
  • Candles: Three candles representing enlightenment and happiness.

The last item on the Haft Seen table is mirror, which symbolizes reflection and self-reflection. It is placed on the table to remind the celebrant to look at themselves and reflect on their actions and intentions for the new year.


Haft Seen is a beautiful tradition that has been celebrated for centuries in Iran and is an integral part of the Iranian New Year. Through the symbolism of the seven items on the table, Iranians reflect on life, wealth, health, happiness, enlightenment, and self-reflection. The number 3 represents the balance brought by Persian triads and the symmetry they produce for a better life.

SabzehRebirth and growth.
SirProtection against illness and evil spirits.
SamanuAffluence and fertility.
CoinsWealth and prosperity.
ApplesBeauty and health.
CandlesEnlightenment and happiness.
MirrorReflection and self-reflection.

The table above summarizes the seven items on the Haft Seen table and their meanings.

The Seven S’s of Haft Seen: Number 4

The Fourth S stands for Sherenashini which is a symbol of spreading love, joy, and sweetness among people. Sherenashini is represented by sweets, particularly by a special assortment of seven sweets called Naneh Berenji, which are made from rice flour, sugar, and fragrant cardamom. Some people also add honey and natural food coloring to create a range of colors. The sweets are arranged in a colorful bowl or plate, and it is customary to pass them around to guests who visit during the Nowruz holidays.

  • Naneh Berenji: These Persian rice cookies are a popular Nowruz treat, made from rice flour, sugar, and cardamom. They are usually topped with poppy seeds and baked until golden brown. The cookies symbolize the hope for a golden year filled with prosperity and happiness.
  • Soan: This Persian candy is made from sugar, oil, and wheat flour, which are heated and mixed until they become a sticky, golden syrup. The mixture is then poured over a sheet of buttered aluminum foil, which is twisted into a spiral shape to create the signature strands of Soan. The candy is believed to represent the hope for a sweet and happy life.
  • Zulbia: These deep-fried pastries are made from a combination of rice flour, yogurt, sugar, and rosewater. The mixture is piped into hot oil and cooked until golden brown. Zulbia is typically served with a sweet syrup, which is made from sugar, water, and fragrant saffron. The pastry symbolizes the hope for happiness and good fortune.

The tradition of serving sweets during Nowruz is an important symbol of sharing joy and happiness with family, friends, and neighbors. It is a way to express gratitude for all the blessings of the past year and to hope for a future filled with sweetness and prosperity.

Naneh BerenjiHope for a golden year filled with prosperity and happiness
SoanHope for a sweet and happy life
ZulbiaHope for happiness and good fortune

The Fourth S of Haft Seen reminds us to spread love, joy, and sweetness among our loved ones and to cherish the moments we share together.

Symbolism of Each Haft Seen Item: Number 5

The number 5 in Haft Seen represents the 5 senses of human beings and the 5 pillars of Islam.

  • Sabzeh: The sprouts grown from lentil, wheat, or barley seeds in a dish symbolize rebirth and renewal, and the ability to see the beauty of nature through sight.
  • Samanu: A sweet pudding made from germinated wheat, Samanu represents human taste and the pureness of one’s thoughts and actions.
  • Senjed: The dried fruit of the oleaster tree, Senjed represents the sense of touch and the ability to feel texture and emotion.
  • Sir: Garlic is believed to possess medicinal properties and symbolizes the power of the human sense of smell.
  • Sib: The sweet and tangy apple is associated with the sense of taste and the pleasure it brings to our lives.

The following table showcases the different items, their Persian names, and their symbolism in Haft Seen:

ItemPersian NameSymbolism
SabzehسبزهRebirth and renewal
SamanuسمنوPureness of thoughts and actions
SenjedسنجدSense of touch and emotion
SirسیرPower of smell
SibسیبPleasure of taste

Overall, the items in Haft Seen represent various aspects of life, spirituality, and culture. By including these items in the traditional setting, one can celebrate the Persian New Year while embracing its rich symbolism and meaning.

Haft Seen Arrangement

The Haft Seen, or Seven S’s, is a traditional Persian arrangement of seven symbolic items that are displayed on the Persian New Year, Nowruz. Each of the seven items begins with the Persian letter ‘sin’ (س) which is denoted with the S sound. This tradition has been practiced for thousands of years, and the Haft Seen arrangement is meant to bring luck, love, and prosperity to the household.

The Number 6

The number 6 holds a significant meaning in the Haft Seen arrangement. It represents harmony and balance between humans and nature. The number 6 is derived from the six seasons that were recognized in ancient Persian culture, each having a specific set of customs and traditions. For example, the season of Tir, which spans from June 22 to July 22, is associated with water and watermelon, while the season of Bahman, from January 21 to February 19, is associated with fire and pomegranates.

The seven items that are included in the Haft Seen arrangement are:

  • Sabzeh (سبزه), which represents rebirth and fertility and is made from wheat or lentil sprouts grown in a dish
  • Samanu (سمنو), which represents sweetness and is a sweet pudding made from wheat germ and flour
  • Senjed (سنجد), which represents love and is a dried fruit from the lotus tree
  • Sir (سیر), which represents garlic and health
  • Sib (سیب), which represents beauty and health and is an apple
  • Somaq (سماق), which represents sunrise and is a spice made from sumac berries
  • Seer (سیر), which represents longevity and is a garlic bulb

Each of the seven items has a specific meaning and significance. For instance, the sabzeh and samanu represent fertility, abundance, and new beginnings. They symbolize the rebirth and growth of nature after the long, cold winter months. Senjed represents love and its sweetness, while sir is associated with good health and protection from diseases. Somaq symbolizes the warmth and life-giving properties of the sun, and seer represents longevity, strength, and good health.

When arranged together in the Haft Seen arrangement, the seven items create a beautiful display of colors, textures, and shapes. The arrangement is usually placed on a table or a special spread called a sofreh and is adorned with other decorative items, such as eggs, coins, and candles. The Haft Seen arrangement is a cherished Persian tradition that not only celebrates the Persian New Year but also reminds people of their cultural heritage and values.

Below is a table that summarizes the seven items and their symbolic meanings in the Haft Seen arrangement:

ItemSymbolic Meaning
SabzehRebirth, fertility
SamanuSweetness, nourishment
SenjedLove, affection
SirProtection, good health
SibBeauty, health
SomaqLife-giving properties of the sun
SeerLongevity, strength, good health

Regional Variations of Haft Seen: The Significance of the Number Seven

In most countries that celebrate the Persian New Year, like Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia, Haft Seen is a staple of New Year’s decorations. Haft Seen is a tabletop arrangement of seven items, all of which start with the Persian letter “sin.” But what do this arrangement and each specific item symbolize?

The number seven in Haft Seen signifies the seven creations and holy immortals in Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion that pre-dates Islam. Additionally, it represents the seven days of the week and the seven Planet-Spaces (Kehen) created in Ancient Persia.

  • Sabzeh: sprouted lentil or wheat, the symbol of rebirth
  • Samanu: sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing abundance
  • Senjed: sweet, dry fruit of the lotus tree, representing love
  • Sir: garlic, symbolizing medicine and good health
  • Sib: apple, representing beauty and health
  • Somaq: sumac fruit, symbolizing the color of sunrise
  • Serke: vinegar, representing age and patience

Aside from these seven items, many regions may add their own special seventh item to their Haft Seen arrangement that symbolizes something specific to their area. Regions within Iran may add Samavar, a tea dispenser; Herbedan, an arrangement of flowers; Bahar Narenj, a bowl of bitter orange, and much more.

Across different regions and countries, Haft Seen may have differences in the items included or symbolism behind them. For example, Somaq (sumac fruit) is not included in the Haft Seen of some countries but may be replaced by Seer (garlic) in Afghanistan.

RegionDifferent Seventh Items
IranSamavar, Herbedan, Bahar Narenj, Coins
AfghanistanSeer (garlic), Sib (apple), Samanu, Coins
TajikistanOb/honag, Gulomcho, Shalgham, Coins

Haft Seen may vary from region to region, but the symbolism behind each item is always deeply rooted in Persian culture. It is a way to celebrate new beginnings, appreciate the beauty of life, and honor the traditions of the past.

Contemporary Haft Seen Practices: The Symbolism of Number 8

The Haft Seen table is an essential aspect of the Persian New Year celebration. Each of the seven items on the table represents a symbol of renewal and rebirth, while the eighth item is a reflection of the individual setting the table. The symbolism of the number eight is twofold. It represents a new beginning, as eight is the next number after seven, which represents completeness. Moreover, in Persian culture, eight is also an auspicious number that brings good luck and prosperity.

  • Coins: One of the items traditionally placed on the Haft Seen table is coins. The coins symbolize wealth and prosperity. Including eight coins on the table is said to bring luck and abundance for the new year.
  • Fruits: Another item commonly seen on the Haft Seen table is fruits. Including eight different types of fruits represents abundance and fertility. It is also believed to ensure a bountiful harvest for the year ahead.
  • Candles: Candles are an essential part of the Haft Seen table. Lighting eight candles represents the light of truth and righteousness shining over darkness.

Besides the traditional Haft Seen table, contemporary Iranians have adapted to their changing times while still upholding the tradition. They have incorporated new items and symbols that represent their modern life and aspirations. These items are:

  • Mobile Phone: In contemporary Iran, smartphones are an integral part of daily life. Including a mobile phone on the Haft Seen table represents the importance of staying connected with loved ones and the world.
  • Book: Iranians have a rich literary heritage, and books represent knowledge and wisdom. Adding a book to the Haft Seen table symbolizes a thirst for knowledge and education.
  • Goldfish: Although not an originally Persian item, goldfish have now become a popular addition to the Haft Seen table. They represent life and joy and are a lovely decoration for the table.

As Iran adapts to the changing times and new generations bring new ideas and beliefs, the tradition of Haft Seen continues to be cherished and celebrated. With each passing year, Iranians aim to create a Haft Seen table that is both traditional and personal, representing their hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

Traditional Haft Seen ItemsContemporary Haft Seen Items
Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts)Mobile Phone
Samanu (sweet pudding)Book
Senjed (sweet dry fruit)Goldfish
Sir (garlic)
Sib (apple)
Somaq (sumac berries)
Seer (garlic)

Although contemporary Iranians include new items on the Haft Seen table, they still hold true to the symbolism behind the traditional items. The Haft Seen table is an essential part of the Persian New Year celebration and a time-honored tradition that is passed down from generation to generation.

Haft Seen and Islamic Influences

The tradition of Haft Seen predates the Islamic era in Iran, but it has become a significant part of the country’s New Year celebrations and is associated with the Persian culture. However, Islamic influences have added symbolic value to this tradition, and various elements of Haft Seen carry religious meanings.

  • Seven is a significant number in Islamic culture, and the seven items that start with the letter “S” in Haft Seen represent seven creations of God. The seven items are Sabzeh (wheat, barley, or lentil sprouts), Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ), Senjed (dried oleaster fruit), Serkeh (vinegar), Sir (garlic), Sib (apple), and Sumac (a type of spice).
  • The number nine also holds a particular spiritual significance in Islam and is represented by the ninth item in Haft Seen – Sekeh (coins or gold). The number nine signifies the lunar months of the Islamic calendar, which is why there are nine items in the Haft Seen tradition. Additionally, in Persian literature, nine represents spiritual experience and enlightenment.
  • The mirror in Haft Seen symbolizes reflection and self-examination, which are essential in Islamic teachings. Self-reflection is a vital part of Islamic rituals such as prayer and fasting, and the mirror is a reminder to reflect on one’s actions and thoughts before the start of the new year.

Haft Seen is a beautiful and distinctive tradition that reflects the rich culture and history of Iran. The Islamic influences have added a spiritual dimension to this tradition and have given it an even more profound meaning. Haft Seen is an excellent example of how culture and religion intertwine to create unique and meaningful traditions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the significance of the number nine in Haft Seen. The number nine holds immense spiritual significance in Islamic teachings and symbolism. In Haft Seen, the ninth item, Sekeh, is represented by coins or gold. This item symbolizes wealth and prosperity and reminds us to strive for success and abundance in the new year. However, beyond its material significance, the number nine represents much more.

Significance of Number 9 in Islamic Culture
The lunar calendar in Islam has nine months. Ramadan, the holiest month of the year, also lasts for nine lunar months.
There are nine names for God in the Quran, and they are repeated together in a call to prayer.
The Prophet Muhammad received his revelations over nine years through the angel Gabriel.

As we can see, the significance of the number nine in Islamic culture extends far beyond the Haft Seen tradition. The number holds immense spiritual importance and is a reminder of the divine creation and revelation. By including the number nine in Haft Seen, we acknowledge its spiritual significance and bring a deeper meaning to this beloved tradition.

Haft Seen and Zoroastrianism Influences

The Haft Seen table is a traditional item used to celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowruz. The table is adorned with seven items, all beginning with the Persian letter Seen (س) which symbolizes the Earth and life. However, the origins of the table can be traced back to Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion which dates back thousands of years.

Zoroastrianism beliefs included the idea that there are six divine beings who govern different aspects of the universe, and these divine beings were called the Amesha Spentas which translates to “Holy Immortals”. These six divine beings were linked to different attributes such as wisdom, goodness, and courage. The number seven was considered sacred in Zoroastrianism as it represented perfection and completion, which is where the concept of the Haft Seen table comes from.

  • The first item on the Haft Seen table is wheat or barley sprouts, which symbolize rebirth and growth.
  • The second item is apples, which represent beauty and health.
  • The third item is garlic, which symbolizes medicine and health.

Other items include coins which symbolize wealth and prosperity, a mirror which represents reflection and self-reflection, and candles which signify enlightenment and happiness.

The number 10 is also significant in Zoroastrianism and is believed to represent the totality of creation. The concept of 10 divine beings called the Yazatas is central to Zoroastrianism. These divine beings are associated with different aspects of creation such as fire, water, sun, moon, and even metals. The idea of ten divine beings is also reflected in the ten days of celebration that form part of Nowruz festivities.

Symbolic ElementsMeaning
Wheat or Barley SproutsRebirth and growth
ApplesBeauty and health
GarlicMedicine and health
CoinsWealth and prosperity
MirrorReflection and self-reflection
CandlesEnlightenment and happiness

To this day, the Haft Seen table remains an important part of Nowruz celebrations for Iranians and people of Persian heritage around the world. It symbolizes new beginnings, hope, and the cycle of life.

FAQs – What Does Haft Seen Symbolize?

1. What is Haft Seen?

Haft Seen, also known as the seven S’s, is a traditional Persian tabletop arrangement of seven symbolic items starting with the Persian letter S in celebration of the Persian new year, Nowruz.

2. What does the number seven signify in Haft Seen?

Seven represents the seven creations and seven holy immortals in Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion.

3. What are the seven items in Haft Seen and what do they symbolize?

The seven items of Haft Seen, and their symbolic meanings, are Sabzeh (wheat or lentil sprouts for rebirth), Samanu (sweet pudding for affluence), Senjed (dried fruit for love), Seer (garlic for medicine), Seeb (apple for beauty and health), Somagh (sumac berries for the sunrise/sunset), and Serkeh (vinegar for age and patience).

4. Are there any other items that can be added to Haft Seen?

Yes, some families add additional items to their Haft Seen arrangement, such as goldfish (life force), coins (wealth), hyacinth flower (beauty), and mirror (reflection).

5. Is Haft Seen only celebrated by Persians?

No, although Nowruz originated in Persia, it is also celebrated in other cultures such as Central Asia and parts of the Balkans.

6. When is Haft Seen typically displayed?

Haft Seen is traditionally displayed on the first day of spring, which falls on March 20th or 21st.

7. What is the significance of Haft Seen in modern times?

Haft Seen serves as a way for Persians to maintain their cultural identity and connect with their heritage. It also symbolizes renewal, growth, and the hope for a prosperous new year.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for reading about the significance of Haft Seen in Persian culture. Nowruz is a time of great celebration, and Haft Seen is a beautiful way to honor this tradition. We hope you visit us again soon for more cultural insights and interesting topics.