Many of the picnic tables at Black Hill Regional Park on Sunday were decorated with bowls of greens.
The decorations were part of the Persian celebration of Sizdeh Bedar, the 13th day of the new year, Norooz.
“This is a Persian custom, the first day of the spring equinox [this year March 20] starts the new year,” said Hamed Maysami of Gaithersburg. The 13th day after that it is bad luck if you stay home, so people tend to come outside with their family, bring a picnic and do something they haven’t done before,”
The tradition of using greens or other crops, such as lentils or wheat, has two main aspects, said Ali Baradar of Darnestown.
“One is that you go out to nature to put bad luck behind you and the [other] more positive aspect is to celebrate spring,” he said. “Its a big celebration. In Iran it’s actually a holiday.”
Maysami and his family and friends were at the Boyds Park joining an estimated 4,000 people who attended the celebration. Dozens of groups posed for photos and exchanged hugs and kisses.
“You see a lot of people you haven’t seen in years,” Maysami said.
Sunday’s festivities were organized by the Iranian American Civic Society of Washington.
Mina Rezvani of Bethesda, president of the civic society, said the celebration cost about $20,000 — $18,000 to Montgomery County Park and Planning and to the park police, as well as money for portable toilets and insurance.
The greens have one more meaning, often associated with springtime in American culture as well.
“We take grass, and tie it up and make a wish and throw it out,” said Raheleh Amini, of Ashburn, Va. “Usually it is the young girls wishing for a husband.”