Iran Nature Day known as Sizdah-bedar is marked on the 13th day of the current month of Farvardin corresponding to April 2. Iranians have a tradition of spending the day outdoors.
The tradition of leaving the house on the thirteenth day of Farvardin is widespread throughout Iran. It is a day that is spent outside with joy, laughter and friendly get together. This is the last phase of the celebrations of the New Year. It is the custom of many Iranians to pass as many hours as possible outdoors. People leave their homes to go to the parks or mountains for a picnic. All kinds of food and delicacies are prepared with tea, sherbet, fruits, bread, cheese, fresh herbs, noodle soup called ‘ash-e reshteh’ and herbed rice with lamb called baqali polou and barreh are favorites. The occasion is a communal one and all close relatives and friends will participate. Iranian families all eat alfresco, preferably near water springs and lush greener spots on this day. Sizdah-Bedar is the last day of the New Year holidays. On the following day, routine life resumes; schools and offices open after almost a fortnight and life heads back to normalcy. The occasion has no religious significance and is celebrated by all.
In addition to Iran, Sizdah Bedar is also among the festivals celebrated in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, India, and many other parts of the world. Games using horse are often chosen since this animal also represents rain. Adults and older people may play the traditional game of backgammon. During the picnic day of Sizdah Bedar, some people also follow the oldest prank-tradition in the world and play jokes on each other. This has possibly led many men and women to consider that the origin of the April Fools’ Day goes back to the Iranian tradition of Sizdah Bedar.
Here, a point to note is that although Sizdah Bedar is said to have been celebrated by Iranians as far back as 536 BC, we find no historical record about it, especially after Iranian embraced the truth of Islam, a millennium and four centuries ago. It is interesting to note that Nowrouz or the Spring Festival is widely mentioned in books of history along with Islamic hadith in its approval but nothing is mentioned about Sizdah Bedar. It should be also noted that there are hundreds of poems in praise of Spring Season (in Persian: Bahaarieh) and the Iranian New year (in Persian: Nowrouz) composed by various classical Iranian poets, but the verses on Sizdah Bedar written by them are rarely found. Amazingly none of thousand famous Europeans who traveled and visited Iran during Safavid era (1501–1736) and up to the last years of Qajars (1794–1925) have ever mentioned the celebration of Sizdah Bedar in their Safar Naameh-ha or Travelogues. The British traveler Edward Pollack who visited Iran in 1865 and the Iranian writer Abdollah Mostofi who was born in 1876 and died in 1950 seem to be the first authors who mentioned about the marking of Sizdah Bedar in their books, which means that it was revived over the past two centuries and was still not popular as it has become today.
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