For Iranians, the start of spring is marked by Nowruz, the traditional new year according to the solar calendar, and the date serves as a reminder to make a fresh start.
In the run-up to the Nowruz celebration, families go on a shopping spree, even though many are on a tight budget these days because times are hard.
If you take a walk round various markets in the capital Tehran, it is clear that people have less purchasing power than before, so the tradition of renewal is limited to essentials like clothing and shoes. Inflation and the reduction in subsidies on fuel, foodstuffs and other items mean there is little left over for more expensive goods like carpets and home appliances.
To bring in the new year, which is marked on March 21, Iranians clean their homes and if possible make some changes there to symbolise “becoming new with the new year”. Every household lays a table with “haft sin” – seven foodstuffs beginning with S. From “sabzeh” – green shoots symbolising rebirth – to apples (“sib”) for health, each item has its own meaning.
Farshid Alyan is the pseudonym of a Tehran-based journalist and photographer.