It’s not odd to hear Iranians celebrate Valentine like many people around the world, but there is an ancient Iranian tradition, just a few days after Valentine to honor and celebrate women and girls; Esfandegan or Sepandarmazgan.
If you ever happen to walk in the streets of Iran major cities (and even the smaller ones) on Valentine’s Day, you can see lots of red gifts at stores and so many young couples celebrating this day of love. Valentine’s Day in Iran is so much similar to western countries, although not a local tradition, it is very popular among many youngsters. However this is not all! There is a tradition kept from ancient days (Sassanid era) on the 5th of Esfand (the last month in the Iranian Solar Calendar, usually from 20th of February to 20th of March) called Esfandegan or Sepandarmazgan.
What were Iranians’ holidays and celebrations?
Iranian year in the pre-Islamic era used to be consisted of 12 months of 30 days each, and a 5 day holiday gap at the end of the year. During Sassanid dynasty and Zoroastrianism as the official religion of Iran, 30 days of a month had names instead of numbers and twelve of this names were the same as the names of the months. Whenever the name of the months met the name of the day, it was a holiday and people celebrated it. These holidays had different purposes like Mehregan in early autumn as thanksgiving festival.
Most of these holidays along with some other traditions were forgotten after the dominance of Islam and conversion of people from Zoroastrianism to Islam, though only a few survived. The most important one was Nowruz (Iranian new year eve), Yalda Night (the longest night of the year at winter solstice) and some less popular ones such as Mehregan, Abrizgan and Esfandegan Day.
What is Esfandegan Day?
The fifth day of each month used to be called as Esfand (or Sepandarmaz), and the 12th month of the year is Esfand. So Esfandegan was a holiday to honor the women and the concept of fertility. Sepandarmaz or the most recent form Esfand, is an angel and keeper of Earth. She is the breeder of all creations on Earth and the origin of many blessings. In this day a man used to give gifts to his wife and daughter(s). This shows the women’s high status in Iran since ancient times.
Is it Iranian Love Day?
Some people believe so, however there are no documents remained to prove this claim. It seems to be in response to make an Iranian version of Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February which is 10 days before Esfandegan. This idea is gaining popularity among common people to make this day both a symbol of love and honoring women whether it is true or not!
When is Esfandegan Day?
Controversies again! The original Esfandegan was on the 5th day of Esfand equals to 23rd of February but some scholars believe it is on 29th of Bahaman or 17th of February. So why two dates for a single day? This 6 day gap refers to calculations of the modern Iranian Solar year which is 365.25 days and the months are not fixed 30 days. So this scholars decided to make corrections in the calendar and preponed Esfandegan to 6 days earlier. These corrections have caused bewilderment among people who like to retrieve this old tradition.
Title photo source: http://www.foreigndesknews.com/