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Iran Culture and Traditions

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.

  • Countryaah: 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 market.

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.

Culture and Traditions of IranThe 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 it.

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 conversation.

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 respect.

It is normal courtesy, even at a first meeting, to be asked about how the family is doing and how it is doing with health.

The most common greeting phrase is salaam alaykum or just salaam (peace). A common phrase when separating is khoda hafez, may God protect you.

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 plate.

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 be sensitive.



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.

Re-tightening penalties

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--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 house arrest.


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.

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