Story by Kayla Toulabi, Summer 2018

The hyacinth flower (or sonbol in Farsi) is native to Iran. Iran is a country that is most often noted for its politics over its beautiful traditions. One which is the Persian New Year that celebrates the first day of spring. My mom uses hyacinth to decorate the customary table that we set up for the holiday. A Persian New Year table (haftsin) has seven symbolic items on it that all tie back to the central theme of a fresh start and welcoming spring. Many people decorate their table with family pictures and other cherished items. This flower can be spotted on most displays and its heavy aroma puts everyone in a positive spirit. The presence of sonbol on tables in different households depicts just how significant it is to Iranians. Even though my family has moved to the United States, when I smell or see this flower, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of connection to my culture. I think about my ancestors and heritage, and realize that generations across generations are connected by a single flower.

Iran is a majority Shia nation, yet there are other religious minorities that make up the population, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Bahaism. Regardless of religious or political identities, all Iranians come together to celebrate the Persian New Year. It reminds us that we are united in our Persian heritage and it is a tradition that we have been able to hold on to despite all the nation’s political transitions. Celebrating this holiday makes me proud of my culture, and reminds me to embrace life and everything in it. Although this is just a flower to most, it represents the beauty and strength of my culture. It excites me about life, and when I see it blossoming in the spring it reminds me to welcome change and look forward to a new beginning.