Nature Day, or in the Persian language, ‘Sizdah Be-dar,’ is an Iranian public holiday celebrated on April 2 in normal years and April 1 in leap years. This year, it falls on April 1. In Iranian culture, it is celebrated on the 13th day of ‘Farvardin’ — the first month of the Iranian calendar, to mark the end of the ‘Nowruz’ celebrations, and is generally described as a day for Iranians to relax and have fun in their individual choices of open spaces. All over the country, picnicking dominates, and both adults and the young feel enthusiastic, and planning for the day starts well in advance.
History of Nature Day
The origin of Nature Day in Iran is rooted in Zoroastrianism. About 4,000 years ago, ‘Sidaz Be-dar’ was celebrated in ancient Iran to worship ‘Teshtar,’ the god of rain, in the hopes that the prayers offered that day would make the god overcome the drought demon and send in the rains. Over the past few centuries, the day has been stripped of its religious affiliations and is now seen more as a cultural holiday than a religious one.
‘Sizdah Be-dar’ simply means “getting rid of the number 13.” In Iran, just as in many world cultures, the number 13 is feared as an ominous number. ‘Triskaidekaphobia’ is the scientific term for this fear. Iranians believe that by going out for picnics in places like parks and the countryside on the 13th day of the ‘Nowruz’ celebrations, they are discarding all their bad luck and would start the rest of the year on a good note. The last activity of the day’s celebration is generally believed to perform that task. At the end of the picnics, observers take green plant shoots grown from the beginning of the ‘Nowruz’ celebrations and release them on flowing water bodies, usually rivers or streams.
Besides releasing green plant shoots on rivers, a version of the western ‘April Fool’ known as ‘Lie of the Thirteenth’ is observed on the day and typically involves playing pranks on others. Other fun activities marking the day include singing, dancing, chattering, playing games, and for the young singles, tying knots in the grass, hoping that doing so would bring them spouses — a practice that also has strong affiliations to an Iranian religious myth. Iranian foods like ‘Sekanjabin’ (a drink made from vinegar and honey) and ‘Ash-e Doogh’ (yogurt syrup) are generally consumed on this day.
Nature Day timeline
The holiday is celebrated thousands of years ago according to Iranian mythology and Zoroastrianism.
Nature Day is celebrated as ‘Tir’ or ‘Teshtar’ in ancient Iran before the emergence of Asho Zoroastrianism.
Pranks are played on Nature Day in the Achaemenid Empire.
The historical records of the Nature Day celebration are revealed in texts from the Iranian Qajar dynasty.
Nature Day FAQs
How many days is ‘Nowruz?’
The ‘Nowruz’ celebrations run for two weeks and end on Nature Day.
Who celebrates ‘Nowruz?’
‘Nowruz’ is majorly celebrated by Iranians and some Kurdish tribes in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Although it is not widely recognized, ‘Nowruz’ is also celebrated by Afghanis, Indians, Pakistanis, and Azerbaijanis.
Is ‘Nowruz’ a religious holiday?
According to recent reports, ‘Nowruz’ is considered a secular or cultural rather than a religious holiday. However, some of its activities are deeply rooted in ancient Iranian religions and mythologies.
Nature Day Activities
Prepare those special treats
Nature Day celebration is almost incomplete without a good dose of ‘Sekanjabin.’ Make sure you prepare or get some.
Have a picnic
This is, in fact, what makes the day worthy of celebrating. Go on a picnic with your family and do all the fun things you want. Don't forget to release those green shoots on the river, though.
Prepare for the year ahead
Since Nature Day ends the ‘Nowruz’ celebration, don't just rely on your good luck to count. Prepare for the wonderful remaining parts of the year.
5 Facts About The Persian Calendar That Will Interest You
A perfect calendar
The Persian calendar is perfect and is considered to be many times more accurate than its Gregorian counterpart.
Months have a consecutive number of days
The first six months on the calendar have 31 days while the last six months have 30 days, except for the last month — ‘Esfand,’ which can be 29 or 30 in leap years.
Corresponds with the seasons
Dividing the 12 months into groups of three is perfectly matched with separating the four seasons into a year, i.e., seasons fall within three months each.
Corresponds with zodiac signs
Its month corresponds perfectly with the zodiac signs, meaning that a zodiac sign perfectly falls within one single, whole month.
Schools resume on the same day
All Iranian schools resume on the first day of the month of ‘Mehr,’ unlike other nations having different school resumption dates.
Why We Love Nature Day
It reveals culture
Every nation values its culture and wants to display it every chance it gets. Nature Day allows Iranians to share and celebrate their historical Persian culture.
It brings goodwill
According to Iranian beliefs, activities during the holiday ward off evil and herald the good things. We love it because it brings glad tidings.
It is fun
Many fun outdoor activities are carried out on Nature Day, leaving observers happier and their spirits lifted. We love this!
Nature Day dates