Customs and traditions
With its rich cultural heritage, the Iranians
are proud of their history, not least the heyday of the
Persian Empire. This is not officially acknowledged in
the Islamic Republic, but the strong religiosity often
goes hand in hand with a tangible nationalism. Iranians
are also interested in and positive to foreigners,
although this is also not officially stated.
Alongside the strong Persian culture, there are many
minorities with their own, very old traditions. These
groups, when possible, have contacts with kinsmen in
other countries, but they have also incorporated parts
of Persian culture and Shia Islam.
Overview of the capital city of Iran, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The so-called moral police constantly keep a strict
eye on the people. For example, kissing in public and
alcohol is not allowed. The rules for how to be dressed
and how to get along are strict, but how visible and
strict the moral police are over time and depending on
how conservative the country's leadership is. At one
point, the Morale Police raided Tehran's toy stores and
all barbecue dolls were seized. At the same time, the
Iranian counterparts of Barbie and Ken, the
significantly less challenging Sara and her
eight-year-old brother Dara, had been launched on the
Traditions and holidays
There are a variety of religious holidays, but 14 of
them have national holidays. They fall according to the
Islamic lunar calendar, which means that the time is
shifted every year in relation to our Western calendar
(the solar calendar). The most important Shi'ite
celebrations are related to the Prophet Muhammad, his
daughter Fatima and some of the birth and death of the
twelve Imams. It is also well known that the end of the
fasting month is Ramadan with the holiday id al-fitr.
The most popular holiday is the Iranian New Year
noruz, which is celebrated during thirteen days
around the spring equinox in March. There are also six
other secular holidays, including the day of the Islamic
Republic on April 1 to celebrate the revolution,
Ayatollah Khomeini's death and the celebration of the
nationalization of the oil industry. The commemoration
of the 1979 Islamic Revolution is also celebrated with a
ten-day anniversary each year, starting on February 1,
the date the Ayatollah returned to its homeland and took
the lead on the revolt against the Shah.
Know and label
Showing other people respect is important in Iran,
and can happen in many ways. Especially older and more
prominent people should be treated respectfully, for
example by standing up when they enter a room or leaving
A central rule is to never give or receive things,
especially food, with your left hand. The left hand is
considered unclean. Of course, when it comes to bigger
things, both hands must be used.
Men and women should not show warm feelings for each
other outside the home, even if they are married. If
you, as a foreigner, receive an invitation card, make
sure the invitation also applies to your partner of the
opposite sex - it is not entirely safe.
Iranians are characterized by a behavior with old
roots, taarof, which is to show humility and
courtesy. It may mean that they protest against
compliments, prove excessively vulnerable, tone down
their own successes to appear humble, and initially
always refuse, once or several times, when offered
something to eat or drink.
In many contexts, punctuality is not a great virtue
in Iran, but you look pretty flexible at the time. If
another person needs support or help, this is much more
important than arriving in time for a meeting. On the
other hand, who is invited to a family home for dinner
should arrive at the appointed time.
To greet and converse
The usual greeting between people of the same sex is
a handshake, preferably along with a slight bow or nod,
which marks respect. A close kiss is also common between
close friends, still between people of the same sex. In
order to maintain a respectful distance between the
sexes, men and women usually avoid eye contact during a
In more formal contexts, such as at business
meetings, the title should be used before the surname.
The most common for academics is a doctor,
while engineers and technicians are titled muhandis.
The equivalent of the English sir is agha,
which can be used either before or after the first name.
The form agha-yeh is only used before the
surname. The corresponding phrases for women, madame,
are khanoom and khanoom-eh.
If you meet a family with children you should also
shake hands with the children to show the parents
It is normal courtesy, even at a first meeting, to be
asked about how the family is doing and how it is doing
The most common greeting phrase is salaam alaykum
or just salaam (peace). A common phrase when
separating is khoda hafez, may God
The one who quickly turns his head upwards says "no"
and the one who nods his head down means "yes".
Iranians give gifts on several occasions, for example
when returning from a trip. Anyone who celebrates years
often brings sweets or pastries to their work but does
not expect gifts for their own part. During the Iranian
New Year, many donate cash as gifts to officials,
postmen and other service personnel.
Anyone invited to a family home should bring a
simpler gift; flowers, cakes and the like. The ritual on
such occasions is that whoever gives should seem
embarrassed and lament that the gift is so
insignificant, and whoever receives the well-wrapped
gift does not open it to the guest but put it aside for
the time being.
Iranians dress formally and conservatively. Men have
either a Western model costume, but without a tie, or
the traditional mantle and turban, and of course this is
especially true of the large group of mules. The Kurds
turban usually has a different model.
Women from all religious groups are expected to wear
Islamic clothing outside the home, thus not showing
their hair and being covered from the chin to the feet.
The former requirement for veil and black, all-
encompassing chador is no longer absolute. The
clothes can vary with, among other things, a shawl in
cheerful colors, but still the clothes should not reveal
body shapes and only face and hands may be shown. Moral
police who control the clothing strike most frequently
during the summer.
At home, Iranians often dress in comfortable,
pajama-like shirts and trousers, even with guests. Shoes
are a chapter in itself; they are taken away, for
example, in the mosque, but those who visit a home
should adhere to the host, who either wears them or not.
Iranians eat certain meals sitting on the floor, and
usually eat by hand. More common, however, are modern
dining tables, but often the only cutlery, for several
dishes, a fork and a spoon.
The most important meal of the day is the dinner,
which is usually served after 8 pm. A guest in a home
can count on several different dishes. Ideally, you
should eat by all, but do not forget to "make taarof",
that is, first thank no. If you do not want a new
portion of a particular dish, leave a little on the
Pork and alcohol are forbidden goods, although
alcohol is consumed in some more secular circles. And
remember: Do not touch the food with your left hand!
During the fasting month of Ramadan, families and /
or friends gather in the evening - after the sun sets -
and eat hearty meals after the fast of the day.
Things to avoid
Your shoes are considered unclean. Therefore, do not
aim them at other persons and do not sit with crossed
legs or deep downs with outstretched legs. Don't praise
and praise someone else's property. This person may feel
pressured to donate it to you.
Minimal physical contact with someone from the
opposite sex can have dire consequences. Don't talk
politics with unknowns. Not even acquaintances if they
do not take the initiative. Be polite and humble if you
come from Europe; Iran is subject to sanctions and
distrust from the outside, and many calls can therefore
Diplomatic conflict with Britain
Britain calls home its diplomats from Tehran and expels all Iranian diplomats
from London since the British embassy in Tehran is stormed by protesters.
EU and US tighten sanctions following a report by the IAEA on advanced
Iranian preparations for the development of nuclear weapons.
Death sentence for Israel collaborator
An Iranian man is sentenced to death for killing one of Iran's leading
nuclear physicists in 2010 on behalf of the Israeli security service Mossad.
Yet another nuclear scientist is murdered
Yet another Iranian scientist with connection to the nuclear program is shot
dead in Tehran.
Demonstrations are turned down
Authorities turn down demonstrations in Tehran on the two-year anniversary of
the re-election of Ahmadinejad as president.
Iran is trying to bypass sanctions
UN Security Council reports that Iran has bought foreign banks and exchange
offices to try to circumvent economic sanctions
Parliamentary criticism of the president
Parliament dots Ahmadinejad for appointing himself Minister of Oil.
The president conflicts with other factors of power
Ahmadinejad is trying to take control of ministerial appointments to
strengthen his position vis-à-vis Ayatollah Khamenei. But Khamenei, the Guardian
Council and Parliament are forcing the president to give way.
Iran is accused of MRI crime
The UN Human Rights Council accuses Iran of a number of human rights
violations. The government rejects the criticism.
House arrest for opposition leaders
Opposition politician Mehdi Karroubi is under house arrest after calling for
support demonstrations for "the Arab Spring" in Egypt and Tunisia. Later this
month, the government confirms that Mir Hossein Mousavi was also sentenced to
Democracy activists are executed
Two activists from the protests in 2009 are executed.
Human rights lawyer is imprisoned
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is sentenced to 11 years in prison and is
prohibited from traveling and practicing his profession for 20 years.