Saturday, February 13, 2010
Sepandarmazgan (or Espandegan) is the celebration day of love, friendship and earth in ancient Iranian culture. This day is dedicated to Spenta Armaiti, Spandarmad in Middle Persian, the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224-654 CE) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. It is celebrated on February 17th and modern folklore dates the celebration to ancient times and Zoroastrian tradition although it was commonly celebrated amongst all Iranians regardless of their religion.
According to Iranian tradition, the day of Sepandarmazgan was held in the Persian Empire in the 20th century BC. On this day, women and girls sat on the throne and men and boys had to obey them and bring them presents and gifts. In this way, men were reminded to acclaim and respect women. The holiday was also called mardgiran and on this day people would write spells on three pieces of paper and paste them on the walls of their home to keep away annoyances. They would also mix grapes and pomegranates into a fine blend and considered it the antidote for a scorpion's sting.
Sepandarmaz is another name for mainyu (earth) meaning holy, humble and passionate and is also Earth’s Guardian Angel. It is the symbol of humbleness and means modest toward the entire creation. These are the qualities attributed to Earth that spreads beneath our feet, thus the symbol of modesty and love. As human beings, there are creatures that we find unpleasant and repulsive but Earth embraces all creatures the same and loves them the same; like a mother who loves all children alike, even when they are occasionally not so pleasant on the surface.
There are various theories explaining the gradual shift from celebrating Earth to celebrating a loved one on Sepandarmazgan. One of such theories compares the Earth to a loving and expecting mother who nurtures those around her. Earth has traditionally been given a female characterization (hence the term motherland) much like how the sky has been labeled male. Further strengthening this theory is in ancient Iranian mythology; that the first couple in the human race, Mashi and Mashianeh, was created from the roots of the mandrake plant and thus the Earth or Sepandarmaz should be considered the mother of all human life.
In ancient Iran each day of the month had a name and all months had 30 days. Any time the name of a day coincided with that of the month, a feast was held. For example, the 16th day of any month is called Mehr and the feast of Mehregan is held on the 16th day of the month of Mehr which was one of the most important feasts of the past. As a result of the revision of number of days of the 1st six months of the year, the date of this holiday was revised from the original date of the 5th of Esfand to the 29th of Bahman.
The Association of Iran's Cultural and Natural Phenomena has been trying since 2006 to make Sepandarmazgan a national holiday, in order to replace its Western equivalent, Valentine’s Day.