Amu Nowroz, the Persian “Santa Claus”

This article is also available in: Italiano

We thought of offering you something different, we thought we would tell you about the Anatolian origins of St. Nicholas, but then we found Amu Nowroz, the Persian “Santa Claus”.

Amu Nowroz

Amu Nowroz
The typical iconography of Amu Nowroz

The character is closely linked to the millennial Persian festival of Nowroz, which symbolizes the transition to the new year and which is celebrated precisely during the spring equinox. Amu Nowroz means precisely “uncle Nowroz” and during that period he makes his appearance in the streets together with the faithful Haji Firuz, who also represents the opposite of him.

The first in fact symbolizes the past year which, loaded with gifts, is disappearing, on the contrary the second is the embodiment of the young man full of energy and requests for the elderly.

Haji Firuz, Harlequin of Persia

If Amu Noworz is in fact very similar to his European counterpart, this cannot be said for the figure of Haji Firaz, now belonging to a role that in the West is increasingly rare: the fool.

Amu Nowroz
Haji Firaz

Another version of his name is in fact Khwaja Piruz, which would mean “winning master” but which, precisely for this reason, makes the character comical. With the face of soot and a tambourine in his hand, he symbolizes the slave who, once a year, can be said to be free from obligations towards his master and for this very reason is so joyful. A very similar function can also be found in the West with the Carnival which, for centuries, this event symbolized. Ancient traditions that intersect, crossing every border, be it physical or historical.

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