Haji Firuz & Amoo Noruz, the Persian troubadour & Santa Claus
Haji Firuz, a troubadour sporting a red costume, black make-up and a tambourine and a red costume ushers in the Iranian New Year with a song and dance.
This beacon of Noruz symbolizes the rebirth of the Sumerian god of sacrifice, Domuzi, who was said to be killed and reborn at the end of the old year and the start of the New Year.
Haji Firuz appears at gatherings and in the streets, entertaining people with songs, dance and the telling of stories. For a few coins he spreads good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.
Narratives say the make-up worn by Haji Firuz may have derived from the imitation of black slaves in Iran from the middle of the 20th century.
Children and adults all love Haji Firuz who, if you are lucky, will tell a few good tales like that of Amoo Noruz and other old yarns.
Amoo Noruz, a distant relative of Haji Firuz is responsible for giving gifts to children much like Santa Claus. He makes their wishes come true and ensures that they are happy and healthy for many years to come.
According to an ancient Iranian belief, if the families are not happy, the angels who are guests of the families will leave the households which may result in the loss of blessings for the household.
It is for this reason that during the days preceding Noruz, people with funny makeup and joyful songs bring laughter to houses, streets and market places.
PHOTO: Men, wearing red clothes and black make-up, as a symbol of the Iranian New Year, called Haji Firuz, sing and dancea on a countryside road, northern Iran, hoping to earn money from passengers.