Picnicking in Iran

Chilling out in the forest

Chilling out in the forest

When it comes to picnicking, Iran is the real deal.

If your first thought for a Sunday picnic involves relaxing and taking it easy without the worry of cooking, setting the table and washing up, you might want to think again.

During the recent two-week trip to Iran I’ve embarked on with my friend and fellow travel blogger Madi of Dream Of Iran, I’ve had quite a few chances to realize that Iran is a very outdoor nation. Any holiday, event, or even just a bit of free time is the perfect occasion for a day spent out eating and playing.

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Walking in the street, you might not tell apart who is actually bound to picnicking from who’s busy with their daily chores, but after spending hours in parks or any green patches, for that matter, I managed to learn how to spot the party-goers.

Both men and women play an important role in the process. When the group arrives, the components of the family carefully inspect the park until they find the right spot. Once the decision is taken, you will see that the apparently elegant, small and trendy handbags the ladies of the group carry are actually full of any kind of food and tools you might need for a proper meal, from tablecloths to napkins to pans. No kidding, I actually saw a barbecue being used during a picnic.

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The food varies and can range from sandwiches combined with pickles, veggies, fruits, drinks, dessert and the never missing nuts, to complete homemade hot meals carried on insulated containers. All followed by one or two cups of tea, always.

Even though eating is the main activity, this doesn’t mean that after lunch, or dinner, the picnic is over. As a matter of fact, it can last still for another couple of hours, and here the options are many, from keeping drinking tea through the evening, to playing any type of ball game to having an after-lunch nap, and by nap I don’t mean merely relaxing but downright sleeping, like the big family I saw in Isfahan whose picnic arrangement involved sheets, pillows and blankets.

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One day I had the great opportunity to join a trip organized by Madi’s tour leading course, and after the mandatory picnic teachers and students engaged in a fierce ball game. Below you can enjoy some shots and feel a little part of the excitement.

Game's starting

Game’s starting

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Alone against everyone

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iranian picnic9

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Even a birthday, or a speech, can be part of a picnic

Even a birthday, or a speech, can be part of a picnic

11 Comments
  1. Great article and wonderful pictures. Your points are very spot on. Plus that Iranians often go picnicking to avoid bad luck. An example is the 13th day of the Iranian new year holidays, named as Nature Day which is a national picnic day too.

    • Wowwww I would love to go picnicking on national picnic day! Very interesting that you go picnicking to avoid bad luck, it would be good to know where this tradition comes from.

      • 13 Bedar which is name of that particular day means 13th day out. There is a common belief that whoever stays at home in that particular day, would not allow the negativity and bad luck of the past year to go out of the house. Not sure from where this belief came from, but ironically in most years, the 13th day of first month of Persian calendar falls on April 1st of the Gregorian one. Maybe we should trace it in Mithra again? lol have to check with the archaeology teacher!

        Anyhow, You might be interested to read this article and see the photos too:
        http://www.payvand.com/news/14/apr/1009.html

  2. haha! We Iranians do really take picnicking to a whole new level! I remember nagging as a child of all the things we had to carry with ourselves to the park and my mum insisting on a proper warm meal while I preferred sausages!! :))
    I’ve never heard about Iranians going to picnic to avoid bad luck!! Even though the 13th is a national picnic day it doesn’t have anything to do with bad luck. We basically go to on a picnic because it’s nature day and we’re suppose to spend it outside.
    Btw, where is this park? it’s looks extremely beautiful!

    • eheh your mom knew definitely better about the difference between good and junk food ;) In the pictures is actually a forest, Gisom forest in Gilan province, and it’s gorgeous and untouched!

    • The number 13 had been considered sinister and wicked in ancient Iranian civilization and Zoroastrianism. Since beginning of the Nourooz tradition, the 13th day of each new Iranian year is called Sizdah Be-dar, and this tradition is still alive among Iranian people both within modern Iran and abroad. Since Sizdah Be-dar is the 13th day of the year, it is considered a day when evil’s power might cause difficulties for people. Therefore people leave urban areas for one day and camp in the countryside.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13_(number)#Zoroastrianism

      • Very interesting, number 13 has been considered unlucky by many countries, I think in airplanes there is no n.13 seat.. Although I think in the far east, like japan, is considered a lucky number. In Italy also 17 is considered unlucky, more than the 13 maybe…

  3. Lovely photo of a Get together for a Picnic and play ball

  4. I do love picnics but mine are finished once the food is gone. :-))))

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