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7 Things About Persian New Year You Didn’t Know

Persian New Year

Norooz = Persian New Year

1. Persian New Year is called Norooz (also Nowruz or Nawroz). Iranians of all religions all around world celebrate Norooz. In Iran, Norooz marks the beginning of Spring and celebrates renewal and rebirth.

2. The word Nowruz is a combination of two Persian Words put together ‘now’ meaning ‘new and ‘roz’ meaning ‘day’.

3. To Iranian people Narooz is an important holiday and in Iran it is celebrated over 13 days.


Persian New Year


4. Fire jumping is a traditional activity done on the Wednesday before Persian new year. Called Chahar Shanbe Suri, jumping over the flames symbolically rids the person of all misfortunes and bad luck of the past year.

5. A special table display is arranged during Norooz called sofreh-ye haft-seen (cloth of seven dishes). Haft-seen tables usually have seven elements that start with the letter ‘S’:

a. Sabzeh – Sprouted wheat grass – to symbolise birth and fertility
b. Semanu – Sweet pudding – to symbolise affluence and fertility
c. Senjed – Sweet dried lotus tree fruit – to symbolise love
d. Serkeh – Vinegar – to symbolise wisdom gained in old age
e. Sir – Garlic – to symbolise medicine and maintaining good health
f. Sumac – Sumac berries – to symbolise sunrise

People often add other items as well:

a. Mirror – to symbolise reflection on the past year
b. Goldfish in a bowl – to symbolise life Continue Reading →

17 Points on Somali Language and Somali People

somali languageSomali Language

1. The Somali language is the national language of Somalia. It has a unique history of varied influences, including Arabic, English and Italian.

2. Due to centuries old ties with the Arab world, Arabic is still widely used and is the second official language in the country.

3. Somali refugees who’ve relocated to Kenya and Tanzania often learn Swahili as it is an official language in both countries.

4. Early written Somali used Arabic script, and it was not until the arrival of Italian and British colonial powers that a Latin-language alphabet was introduced to the Somali language.

5. Today, a Latin-language Somali alphabet is the most widely used script. The Somali alphabet is the same as the English, without the letters p,v and z.

Sultan Yusuf AliSomali Civil War

6. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali Muslim empires dominated the regional trade.

7. In the late 19th century, through a succession of treaties with these kingdoms, the British and Italians gained control of parts of the coast, and established British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.

8. The country gained independence in 1960. Over the next 32 years violent power struggles developed between warring clan lords. In 1969 President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was assassinated and the army seized power. Major General Mohamed Said Barre became president who sided with Russia during the cold war period.

9. In 1977 the 8 month long Ogaden War was fought between Somalia and Ethiopia. During this war Russia and the US switch allegiances. Russia ceased to support Somalia and supported Ethiopia instead and the US ceased supporting Ethiopia and began supporting Somalia.

10. In 1991 President Said Barre fled the country, and left Somalia in the hands of clan-based guerilla groups.

11. For the next 20 years Somalia spiraled into a state of anarchy and civil war Continue Reading →

14 Points On Karen People And The Karen Language

Karen PeopleKaren People And The Karen Language

1. The Karen people are one ethnic group out of over 100 different ethnic groups and sub-ethnic groups within Burma.

2. The term Karen can refer to the Karen people and/or the group of Karen languages.

3. The Karen people are indigenous to the Thailand-Burma border region in Southeast Asia. They live mainly in the Kayah and Karen states.

4. The Karen people are culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse.

5. While most Karen people are Sgaw Karen, there are other Karen cultural and language groups such as Pwo Karen and Bwe Karen.

6. The only Karen languages to have written forms are the southern languages of Pwo and Sgaw, which are written using a Burmese script.

Ethnic States in Burma

Map of ethnic states in Burma. The yellow state called Kayin is the Karen State. (Names of States were changed when the Burmese military regime changed Burma to Myanmar)

Burma History

7. Since Burma’s first year of Independence from the British in 1948 the Karen National Liberation Army has been fighting against the Burmese military regime for autonomy and cultural rights.

8. The civil war in Burma has been dubbed as the longest ongoing conflict in the world.

9. Millions of people from Burma, mostly from ethnic populations in the country’s borderlands, have fled armed conflicts due to the Burmese military’s continuous and horrific human rights abuses that have spanned over several decades.

Karen Refugees

10. Over 140,000 Karen people have fled across the border to Thailand for safety to live in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border.

11. Some refugees have lived confined to the camps in Thailand for 30 years.

12. Figures from 2014 show that there are approximately 120,000 people living in the nine camps along the Thai-Burma border. (The Border Consortium – a humanitarian aid agency that provides food and shelter to refugees)

13. Recent political changes and ceasefires in Burma have resulted in Continue Reading →

16 Facts On The Philippines Language And Culture

Philippines Language How To Say Hello In Filipino

Kamusta – Hello in Tagalog (Filipino)

Philippines Language: Tagalog or Filipino

1. Tagalog is the foundation of Filipino which is the national Philippines language.

2. Although there is not a great distinction between Tagalog and Filipino, there is a difference which reflects the political and social history of the Philippines language.

3. In the 1930’s when the Commonwealth constitution was drawn up, Tagalog was only spoken in Manila and the surrounding provinces.

4. The Constitution called for a national language but did not specify which Philippines language it would be. However, Tagalog became the unofficial national language as it became accepted and understood by the entire population.

5. In the 1970’s President Marcos tried to introduce a new national Philippines language called Pilipino, which was based on Tagalog but replaced words of foreign origin (mainly English and Spanish) with new words. However this did not work as words from English and Spanish origin had become an integral part of the language in the Philippines.

6. Filipino as it is known today entered into the constitution in the 1980’s as the national language. The Filipino language acknowledged and embraced Continue Reading →

13 Points On The Turkish Language And Culture

Turkish Language and CultureThe Turkish Language

1. Turkish is a very ancient language going back 5500 to 8500 years.

2. Today the Turkish language is spoken by about 70 million speakers mainly in Turkey and Cyprus. There are also Turkish speakers in Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Iraq and Israel.

3. Through the span of history, Turks have spread over a wide geographical area, stretching across today’s Mongolia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Iraq and a wide area of northern Africa, taking their language with them.

4. The Turkish language is spoken at home by people who live in the areas that were governed by the Ottoman Empire. For instance, in Bulgaria there are over a million speakers. About 50,000 Turkish speakers live in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan.

5. Generally, the “Turkish” languages spoken between Mongolia and Turkey should be called Turkic languages, and the term “Turkish” should refer to the language spoken in Turkey alone.

Other Influences on the Turkish Languages

6. Historically Turkish was strongly marked by the gradual impact of Persian and Arabic, not only in terms of vocabulary, but also sentence construction, writing etc.

7. During the times of the Ottoman Empire the language was also influenced by Slavic languages such as Bulgarian and Serbian.

8. Until 1928 Turkish was written with a version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet.

9. In 1928, as part of his efforts to modernise Turkey, the first Continue Reading →