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Kids' Zone Abeja Dispatch

The Fire Holiday
March 25, 2000

Our first night in Iran was a big surprise! It was our good fortune that they were celebrating a "fire holiday". We were sitting in the cozy living room of our hotel, and we heard the sound of firecrackers! So we decided to go out and see what was going on.

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But, in Iran, the women have to cover themselves with a black gown from head to toe before going out. So, we covered our heads in black shrouds and went out on to the street. It was dark outside, and a bunch of kids were playing around a fire. An old man with sparkling eyes was watching over them. And, suddenly, a small boy came running out towards the fire. He slowed down just before the fire and jumped right over it. He landed safely on the other side of the fire and laughed with delight. Another little boy tried to do the same, but he stopped short, frightened by the flames. (The Odyssey World Trek suggests that you DO NOT try fire jumping with your friends at home.)

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This holiday celebrates fire, which is a symbol of God for an old Persian religion called Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism was started by Zoroaster back in the sixth century BCE. This was the one of the first religions ever to believe that there is one God-a monotheistic religion. There are not too many Zoroastrians alive in today's Iran. And out of the 150,000 followers that are left, most of them live in the city of Yazd, where we will be going later.

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Even though today's Iran is mostly Muslim, this old religion has left a lasting mark on the culture and cutoms of Iran. This fire holiday is a good example that shows exactly this. The Zoroastrian influence also makes Iran different from the other Islamic countries that we have visited. In fact, even the calendar used by Iran is based on an old Zoroastrian calendar, not an Islamic one. The Iranian visa stamp on my passport says it is the year 1378, and I couldn't believe it when I saw it! The New Year here begins with the first day of spring, called the spring equinox. The schools are out, and everyone is getting ready for the New Year celebration. This vacation is like their Christmas vacation.

Vocabulary

monotheistic - the doctrine or belief that there is but one God
shroud - to veil under another appearance (as by obscuring or disguising); to cover for protection

The kids were still shooting off firecrackers and jumping over the fire, which was much smaller. But we were now looking for the next part of the celebration-the food, dancing and music. This was, indeed, a great celebration.

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Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

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