What is Sadeh?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Sadeh — the English transliteration of Sadé or Sada, also known as Jashn-e or Jashne Sada, and Jashn-e or Jashne Sadé — is an ancient Iranian celebration. Jashn-e means “festival.” Because of the large bonfire that is customarily part of the celebration, the holiday is also called the “Feast of fire” — Adur-Jashn-e. The purpose of the fire is to drive away winter and defy Ahriman, the enemy of the creator Ahura Mazda, and the community joins in gathering wood to feed the special bonfire.

Woman waving
Woman waving

Sadeh is traditionally celebrated on two distinct days. Some say that this is due to the change in the Zoroastrian calendar in the third century CE. Whatever the cause, the two celebrations are both dated from other events.

The meaning of Sadeh is “hundred” and this refers to the fact that there are a total of 100 days before or after the event from which Sadeh is dated. In the Yazd tradition, the celebration of Sadeh is 100 days prior to Nowrouz — also spelled Nowruz and Newroz — the traditional Zoroastrian new year’s holiday, which falls on the first day of spring. Some sources indicate that Sadeh, however, is celebrated 100 days before the religious Nowrouz, which does not necessarily coincide with the first day of spring. In any case, this places the celebration in December.

The other celebration of Sadeh, in the Kermani tradition, falls 100 days after an obligatory feast called gahanbar, or gahambar, of Ayathrima, which is the beginning of winter. This places the celebration in late January.

In modern celebrations, the lighting of fires is accompanied with celebrations that include music and dancing, and sometimes the slaughtering of a lamb. Many participants also offer prayers and share traditional foods. The celebrations are mostly in late January and now occur worldwide. For example, the Texas Persian Cultural Center sponsored a celebration of Sadeh on 31 January 2009.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


@burcidi-- I saw a news report on Iran the other day that talked about religion. It said that Iran is almost 100% Muslim. Zoroastrians are 1% but along with some other groups like Jews and Christians.

I don't know whether Sadeh is a national holiday in Iran but the program did mentioned Newroz celebrations. I don't see why they would celebrate the Zoroastrian new year and not Sadeh. Maybe someone more informed on this than I can comment on it.

What I ultimately gathered from the TV program about Iran, religion and celebrations is that even though Iran is an Islamic country, they have not stopped following their ancient traditions and holidays from before the arrival of Islam. So they celebrate both Islamic holidays and also historically Persian (and Zoroastrian) traditions like Newroz.


I thought that Sadeh was just a Jewish name, like Yitzhak Sadeh, an Israeli commander I read about in a book on Israel. My friend also tells me that its mentioned in the Old Testament and means land. I'm not sure if that's true but clearly it has nothing to do with the celebration of Sadeh.


So do only Zoroastrians celebrate Sadeh? I'm not even sure what Zoroastrianism is exactly, other than that its an ancient religion.

I thought that Iran was mostly Muslim, I didn't think they would allow celebrations from other religions. How many Zoroastrians are there in Iran? Is sadeh a national holiday there?

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