Arts, Culture & Media

An Iranian-American comic takes on Nowruz — the Persian New Year celebration

This story is a part of

Global Nation

This story is a part of

Global Nation

Comedian K-von Moezzi grew up in Reno, Nevada. And while his name may look unmistakably Iranian, Moezzi grew up knowing very little about his Iranian heritage.

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“I didn’t grow up Iranian because my dad was trying to lay low,” explained Moezzi. His father immigrated to the US in the late 1970s, just before the Iranian revolution.

“He wanted to raise his family all-American," he said. "He bought a cowboy hat, he bought a pick-up truck and we had the non-Iranian, traditional lifestyle.”

That lifestyle did not include celebrating Persian holidays or learning to speak Farsi. In fact, it wasn’t until Moezzi moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy that he began to explore his Persian heritage.

“Once I got into stand-up comedy, I used to get invited, because of my name, to Persian or Iranian events. The only people I knew growing up who were Iranian were my aunt and uncle. So I had a whole new world of people to please — and they’re kind of a tough audience,” Moezzi added.

One of those Iranian stand-up events that Moezzi was invited to was a Nowruz celebration.

“Nowruz?” Moezzi asked the event organizers. “What is that?”

Moezzi had never celebrated the holiday before. He decided he needed to find out more about the holiday. So, in typical LA fashion, he made a mini-documentary about it, K-von Presents: A Splash of Nowruz.

Nowruz is the New Year holiday celebrated in Iran and throughout Central Asia. It starts on the first day of spring and lasts for 13 days. As part of the holiday, people set a table with seven ceremonial objects: a mirror, an apple, candles, rose water, spouts, a gold fish and painted eggs.

“If you quit thinking of it as a foreign holiday and compare it to what you already know, it’s pretty understandable,” Moezzi explained. “Nowruz pre-dates Easter and has painted eggs on the table to represent fertility. Nowruz is like a birthday party for Mother Nature and it’s also like Thanksgiving, a big feast. So it’s really the greatest hits of all holidays.”

Other traditions include cleaning your house, buying new clothes and, most importantly, visiting your elders.

So what did Moezzi’s father have to say about his Nowruz exploration?

“I always joke, ‘You were trying to keep Nowruz from me to save money and not buy me clothes,’ but really I don’t think it was a conspiracy quite like that,” Moezzi said. “He just wanted me to fit in and get along. I think he’s kind of excited that I took an interest in the holiday.”

If you want to know more about Nowruz, check out his video.