To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

Persian

7 Traditional Ramadan Delicacies You Must Try

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer and self-reflection, observed by millions around the world. It is a time for practicing self-discipline, empathy and compassion. 

Those who observe it, fast from dawn to dusk. These fasts are broken by a meal after sunset called iftar (إفطار) or ftoor (فطور) and reinitiated by dawn with a meal called suhur (Arabic:سحور) or sahari/sehri (Persian/Urdu: سحری). The iftar table particularly is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, enjoyed by Muslims and their guests from all walks of life. 

Here are 7 traditional delicacies from the Middle East that you can spot on iftar/suhur tables around the world.

 

Ma'amoul1. Ma’amoul (معمول)


Ma’amoul is a filled semolina cookie popular in the Middle East particularly in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. It is often filled with dates, figs and nuts such as pistachios, almonds and walnuts. It is also prepared in Egypt and Turkey where it is called kahk and kombe, respectively. The word ma’amoul is derived from the Arabic root ‘amila (عَمِلَ) meaning “to do”.

Basbousa2. Basbousa (بسبوسة)


Basbousa is a semolina cake, soaked in syrup, originally from Egypt. Today, it (or a version of it) is found throughout the Middle East (in Levant: harissa “هريسة”), the Caucasus (Armenian: shamali “Շամալի”), and in countries like Greece (ravani “ραβανί”), Turkey (“revani”), Bulgaria (revane “реване”) and Ethiopia (basbousa “ባስቦሳ”).

Qatayef3. Qatayef (قطايف) (also pronounced as ‘atayef)


Qatayef is a sweet dumpling made from yeasted batter and filled with cheese and nuts, enjoyed throughout the Levant and Gulf region. A recipe for it is found in the earliest known Arabic cookbook – the 10th century, Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) by Ibn Sayyar al Warraq. The word qatayef is derived from the Arabic root qtf (قطف) meaning to pick or pluck.

Om Ali4. Om Ali (أم علي)


Literally translating to ‘mother of Ali’, this is a traditional Egyptian dessert. Some call it the national dessert of Egypt.
Legend has it that it was first prepared in the 13th century at the behest of Om Ali, the first wife of Mamluk Sultan Izz al Din Aybak. It is a speciality at most Egyptian iftar feasts. 

A variant of this dish is found in the Jordanian and Iraqi delicacy called “khumaiaa”.

Luqaimat5. Luqaimat (لقيمات) or Zalabiya (زلابية)


Luqaimat
literally translates to “morsel” or “mouthful” and refers to deep fried dough balls, soaked in syrup or honey. This delicacy, sometimes also known as zalabiya (زلابية), is mentioned in several medieval sources such as Ibn Batuta’s travelogue, the famous ‘Thousand One and Nights’ (in the story of the porter and the three ladies of Baghdad), and in the 13th-century writer, al-Baghdadi’s cookbook Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) – where it is called luqmat al-qādi (لقمة القاضي), “the judge’s morsel”.

Variations of this delicacy are found in Iran (bamiyeh, “بامیه”), Cyprus (loukoumádes “λουκουμάδες” or lokmádes “λοκμάδες”), Greece (zvingoi  “σβίγγοι” or tsirichta “τσιριχτά”), and in Turkey (Saray lokması).

Zoolbia6. Zoolbia (زولبیا)


It is a sweet and crunchy Iranian fritter prepared with fermented batter, saffron, sugar and syrup. At
iftar tables, they are often found alongside bamiyeh (بامیه), the small donut-shaped bites. The Iranian zoolbia is closely related to the Arab zalabiya (زلابية), another delicacy prepared at Ramadan using fermented batter, sugar and syrup. Recipes for the latter are recorded in both al Warraq’s and al Baghdadi’s cookbooks from the 10th and 13th centuries respectively. 

Varieties of this delicacy are also found in South Asia (jalebi), North Africa (zlabia) and the Caucasus (zulbiya or zilviya).

 

Goosh-e fil7. Goosh-e fil (گُوش فيل)


Literally meaning “elephant’s ears”,
goosh-e fil is a deep fried pastry prepared in Iran and Afghanistan. They often come topped with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios and are in many ways similar to the Italian dessert named crostoli or chiacchiere. They are particularly enjoyed around Nowruz (Persian new year) and Ramadan.


Learn more about these delicacies and their cultural histories with NaTakallam! Book a session with one of our Arabic, Persian or Kurdish language partners today to delve deeper into the world of languages and everything sweet! 

To all learners, language partners, and friends observing this month, Ramadan Kareem (رمضان كريم, “[have a] blessed Ramadan”), remezan pîroz be!

 

CREDITS
– Copywriting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.

Nowruz: A Celebration of Spring, Renewal & Resilience

Nowruz: A Celebration of Spring, Renewal & Resilience

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Nowruz is a festival that marks the beginning of spring and a new year, according to the Persian solar calendar. The term “Nowruz” (نوروز) comes from Persian and translates literally to “new day”. Although the festival has its roots in Iranian and Zoroastrian cultures, over the years, it has been celebrated by communities in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia as a secular holiday.

Nowruz is marked at the precise moment of the Spring equinox (between the 20th and the 21st of March) in the northern hemisphere and across the various time zones. This year, Nowruz falls on Sunday, March 20th, 2022 at 16:33 CET | 11:33 EST | 08:33 PST.

This blog explores the significance of Nowruz to individuals and communities that have faced displacement over the years. It delves into rituals, food and memories that are kept alive despite turmoil, separation, perilous journeys and novel circumstances. It also looks at aspects of Nowruz celebrations that have evolved with time. In our exploration, we are joined by six Language Partners at NaTakallam who celebrate Nowruz and have experienced displacement. 

Nowruz, a celebration of nature in spring


Nowruz is a celebration of a new day and a new life”, reflects Sayed Nabi, an Afghan Language Partner at NaTakallam, as he fondly recollects celebrating the festival out in parks with family and friends as a child while growing up in Afghanistan. 

Nowruz marks the renewal of life in nature during spring. Parks, the countryside and forests have a special place in Nowruz festivities. Families join friends and neighbors outdoors particularly, on the ultimate day of Nowruz celebrations called “Sizdah Bedar” (سیزده بدر, lit. ‘the thirteenth outdoors’) to reconnect with nature and imbibe its renewed vigor.

Marwan, a Kurdish Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares his memories of celebrating Nowruz in nature with family and friends. He recounts, “while adults were on the green meadows singing folk songs, accompanied by the strumming of a tembûr player, and dancing in big circles, children played hide and seek or waited for their turn to get in on a small rust-covered so-called ferris wheel.” Similarly, a Kurdish Language Partner from Syria (who would like to remain anonymous) reminisces waking up at 5 A.M. to prepare to travel to the countryside, wearing traditional Kurdish clothes where they sang, danced and watched speeches and plays late into the night. 

Sabzeh_Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_HaftSeen_Table_SpreadAn Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam (who, also, would prefer to remain anonymous) points out that although the refugee/migrant-experience(s) have curbed traditional Nowruz celebrations, being out in nature is still central to their family’s observance of the festival: “On the last day of festivities i.e., on Sizdah Bedar (getting rid of thirteen or the thirteenth out of the doors), all of the family spend the day in the open fields, parks or riversides to picnic; playing games, making music and dancing, taking with them the Sabzeh (سبزه, sprouts) to give it back to nature by throwing it into the river.”

Nowruz preparations and the Haft-Seen table


Nowruz celebrations and preparations for it can span days. As the aforementioned Iranian Language Partner relates, it usually begins with, “
a scrupulous cleaning of the house and growing Sabzeh (sprouted wheat, barley or lentils) in a dish”. 

Sadiqa Sultani, an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares: “My family and I started our preparation for the festivities weeks beforehand. We clean our homes from top to bottom, including carpets, windows and curtains. Everyone in the family helps out. Anything broken is repaired or replaced and the house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, we wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year.”

Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_HaftSeen_Table_SpreadApart from cleaning, preparing food particularly, the Haft-Seen (هفت سین, seven Ss) table spread for the night of Nowruz is a key component of the celebrations. Sadiqa describes her family’s Haft-Seen table as follows:

We prepare a special table in our homes, where we place small dishes holding seven symbolic foods and spices. The names of these foods all start with the letter ‘s’ (س) in Persian and so the table is called the ‘seven s’s’ (Haft-Seen). The dishes generally contain wheat or bean sprouts (sabzeh), vinegar (serke), apples (sib), garlic (sir), a wheat-based pudding called samanu, a red spice called sumac, and senjed, a kind of wild fruit which is common in the region. Other symbolic objects can include goldfish, painted eggs, candles and a mirror. The seven s’s symbolize life, love, health and prosperity.”

Alongside the delicacies on the Haft-Seen table, a variety of other dishes are prepared and enjoyed over the days of Nowruz celebrations. Leila Eftetahi, an Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares that her favorite dish to have on Nowruz is Sabzipolo ba Mahi (سبزی پلو با ماهی, herbed rice and fish). The Kurdish Language Partner (who would like to remain anonymous) shares that Mahshi is a popular dish enjoyed during Nowruz, mainly among Iraqi-Kurdish communities. Sadiqa tells us that her favourite Nowruz food item is Samanu (سمنو), “a sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat, which is prepared especially for Nowruz in a large pot.”

Nowruz and the refugee/migrant experience(s)


Nowruz celebrations among communities affected by conflict and displacement have an added meaning today. It celebrates resilience – of nature and human beings. 

The aforementioned Iranian Language Partner shares “the usual family links and networks do not exist anymore for many exiles or immigrants…In spite of these and other obstacles, Iranians who live abroad try to observe Nowruz traditions and rituals.” These sentiments are echoed by Sadiqa, when she says: “living as refugees, not having access to basic rights and having very few facilities, people prepare a small table just to celebrate the Nowruz with their family. Something that hasn’t changed is the way and reason for celebrating Nowruz. People spread love and happiness as much as they can.’’ 

Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_Sizdah_BedarSharing happiness and keeping alive memories of “cozy fellowship” has been an important part of Marwan’s recent Nowruz celebrations. He reveals that he is looking forward to celebrating Nowruz with his small family “outdoors in a nearby playground and then, indoors  dining locally, listening to Kurdish songs in Kurdish-hyggelig ambiance.” Leila, similarly, shares that she has never forgotten the excitement of getting to pick the tablecloth for the Haft-Seen table as a child. She honors this memory by continuing to pick a tablecloth for the Haft-Seen table as a tradition even after being away from home for the last 7 years. 

Nowruz is a celebration of nature and new beginnings. Over the years, it has also come to commemorate human resilience and the quest for fellowship and happiness even in the face of adversity and displacement. 

Happy first day of Spring to our language partners, language learners, friends and supporters, and all those celebrating, نوروز مبارک , Newroza te pîroz be, Happy Nowruz! 

Fascinated by Nowruz? Learn more about Persian, Kurdish and Afghan cultures, traditions and languages with NaTakallam’s native tutors. Sign up here, today! 

Learn a language, make a friend, change a life. 

 


CREDITS
Copywriting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.
Copyediting: Lucy Davis is a Communications and PR Officer with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and literature. She loves cooking, doing puzzles, and traveling to new places.
Content support 1: Leila Eftetahi is an Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Farsi dialect. She has degrees in Computer Science and International Tourism, and has been working as a Community Engagement Specialist. Leila enjoys performing, watching movies and reading in her free time.
Content support 2: Sadiqa Sultani is an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Dari dialect. She is an active volunteer at her local Refugee Learning Centre and in the refugee community. She loves sharing her culture and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and writing in her journal.
Content support 3: Sayed Nabi is an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Farsi and Dari dialects. He studied French language and literature and worked as an interpreter & translator with ISAF/NATO and AFRANE. He loves Persian poetry, is interested in cultural exchange, and eager to share his experiences with students.
Content support 4: Marwan Sheikho is Syrian Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurdish – Kurmanji dialect. He studied the development of Kurdish Kurmanji in Turkey and Syria for his Master’s degree in Germany. He enjoys learning languages, photography and preparing Kurdish language learning material for kids.
– And TWO OTHER content supporters who would like to remain anonymous.

How People Express Laughter in Different Languages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Laughter is a universal yet culturally-tinted phenomenon. It draws people together and has the power to stimulate physical, emotional, psychological and social changes. Ever wondered how people from different cultures conveyed laughter and humor? Join us as we explore laughter and humor in five different language-cultures!

1. PERSIAN

In Persian, laughter is transcribed as either خخخخخ (khkhkhkhkh), ههههه (hahahahaha), or هاهاهاها (ha ha ha ha). 

Central to Persian popular humor is the figure of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Born in Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 13th century, Khodja was a philosopher and a wise man who imparted his wisdom through witty jokes and funny tales. A famous Khodja tale that Persian-speakers (and others) chuckled to over generations goes as follows: 

Mulla had lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there. His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: “Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?” Mulla stroked his beard and said: “The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here”.

2. ARABIC

In Arabic, laughter is written as ههههه (hhhhh or hahahaha), هاهاها (hā hā hā), or even هع هع هع (ha’ ha’ ha’). 

Like Mulla Nasruddin Khodja in the Persian-speaking world, Arabic-speaking countries too have a popular figure who effortlessly combines humor and wisdom. Known as Juha, Djoha, or Goha, this figure first appeared in Al-Jahiz’s 9th-century book “Saying on Mules” (القول في البغال). However, over the centuries, the character of Juha was merged with that of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Juha appears in thousands of tales, always witty, sometimes wise, and other times gently absurd – a butt of his own jokes. 

In one story, a man sees Juha across a raging river. “How do I get across?” the man cries. “You are there already!” Juha shouts back.

3. SPANISH

In Spanish, laughter is expressed as jajajaja (hahahaha). 

The Spanish sense of humor is well encapsulated in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a mock epic which satirizes early modern obsession with noble knights, ridiculous quests and chivalric attitudes. Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, it is considered one of the founding works of western literature. Humor in Don Quixote is subtle but sharp. Cervantes sets his story as follows, before going on to describe the absurd adventures of his titular character:

“En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.”

(‘‘Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.’’)

4. ARMENIAN

In Armenian, laughter is transcribed as հա հա հա (ha ha ha). 

Humor, in more recent times, has been used by Armenians as a form of resistance and empowerment. The famous Radio Yerevan jokes are an example. Popular in the 20th century, these jokes took a Question & Answer format, mimicking that of popular series on Armenian Radio. 

When asked ‘‘Could an atomic bomb destroy our beloved town, Yerevan, with its splendid buildings and beautiful gardens?’’

Radio Yerevan answered: ‘‘In principle, yes. But Moscow is a far more beautiful city.’’

5. FRENCH

In French, laughter is often expressed with the initials mdr’ for mort de rire (dying of laughter) – equivalent to LOL in English. 

French humor is celebrated in cartoonist André Franquin’s Gaston, a gag-a-day comic strip first published in 1957 in the comic strip Spirou. The series focuses on the everyday life of Gaston Lagaffe (meaning Gaston “the blunder”), a lazy and accident-prone office junior working at Spirou’s office in Brussels. It is much loved not only for its perfectly timed comedy, but also for its warm outlook on everyday life.

Explore humor and laughter in different languages this New Year with NaTakallam’s native language partners! Sign up for sessions here or spread the laughter (it’s contagious!) with a loved one by gifting a NaTakallam session here – an experience like no other.

Gaston comic visual source: philonomist.com/en/article/innovation-smile-gaston-lagaffe

5 Ways to Express Love in Persian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

As we count down to Valentine’s Day, did you know that another celebration of love – of women and earth – is just around the corner: the ancient Persian festival of  Sepandār-mazgān (سپندارمذگان), which is celebrated on February 18th this year?!

Although it was only recently that the festival gained popularity among Persian communities worldwide, Sepandār-mazgān was historically marked on the 5th of ‘Esfand’ (the 12th month in the Persian calendar) and dates back to the 20th century BC! Today, in Iran, this day is observed a week earlier, on 29th of ‘Bahman’ (the 11th month in the Persian calendar) due to changes in the calendar with time.

This Valentine’s Day through to Sepandār-mazgān (and beyond!), express your affection for a loved one with these Persian phrases.

1. Doostet daram (دوستت دارم)

It literally translates to “I like you” but is a common and widely recognized way to say “I love you” to a loved one, family or friends in Persian!

2. Asheghetam (عاشقتم)

From the word eshghعشق” (love), it literally translates to: “I’m in love with you.” It’s a much more intense expression of love used in both romantic and close platonic relationships alike!

3. Jigar tala (جیگر طلا)

Now this Persian expression is a truly unique way to address a loved one – it literally means “golden liver”! It conveys how vital you think they are to your existence.

4. Fadat besham (فدات بشم)

The ultimate expression of affection, this phrase means “I am willing to sacrifice myself for you.” Use this expression the next time someone says something super adorable that makes your heart melt. This expression is purely metaphorical and not to be taken literally in any case!

5. Eshghe mani (عشق منی)

Translating to “you are my love”, this phrase can be used in response to a lovely comment by a loved one. Derived from the word eshghعشق” (love), you can flip the expression around and add the possessive pronoun “my”, or suffix “-am” in Persian: “eshgh” + “am” = eshgham (عشقم) to mean ‘‘my love’’.

Other common terms of endearment include: azizam (عزیزم, my dear), asalam (عسلم, my honey), khoshgelam (خوشگلم, my beautiful), nafasam (نفسم, my breath), jigaram (جیگرم, my liver).

 

This February (and beyond), give the Gift of Language in Persian to your jigar tala (جیگر طلا) or take your love expressions to the next level with NaTakallam’s Persian sessions! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds. What says “doostet daram” more than that?

Ps. Thinking of Valentine’s Day gift ideas? Go beyond chocolates & flowers… surprise your loved one with the Gift of Language! Meaningful, impactful AND shipping-free! 😉

10 Untranslatable Love Expressions From Different Languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Love is a universal language but some days you need a little extra help with expressing your affection to your loved one. Here are our top 10 love expressions in 6 languages.

1. Arabic: Damu-hu/hā khafeef (دمه/ دمها خفيف)
Literally meaning “his/her blood is light”, this expression is used to say that you find someone extremely funny and adorable! Don’t forget that gender matters in Arabic: when referring to a male, use damu-hu khafeef, and for a female, use damu-ha khafeef.

2. Spanish: Eres un bombón
Like the previous expression, this phrase is a way of complimenting a loved one when they look particularly sweet. It literally translates to “you are a bonbon”.

3. French: Mon petit chou (masculine) or Ma choupinette (feminine)
This unique term of endearment can often be confusing. It literally translates to “my little cabbage”! However, you’re not calling your loved one a cabbage here but a “chou” short for ‘chou à la crème’, a sweet French puff pastry!

4. Persian (Farsi): Delam barāt tang shode (دلم برات تنگ شده)
When “I miss you” just isn’t enough, employ this poetic Persian phrase. It literally translates to “my heart has tightened for you”. This expression conveys the physical agony of being separated from a loved one – you miss someone so much that you can’t breathe!

5. Spanish: Me haces mucha falta
Although this Spanish expression is commonly translated as “I miss you”, it has a more heartwarming meaning to it. When broken down, it translates to: you make a big absence in me, or you are lacking from me!

6. French: Retrouvailles
Perhaps more relevant these past two years than ever: the unmatched feeling of joy when finally reunited with a loved one after much time apart – that’s exactly what this untranslatable French word conveys!

7. Kurmanji Kurdish: Kezeb-a min
Go beyond the typical terms of endearment with this Kurmanji expression. Address your loved one – lover, family or friend – with: “kezeb-a min”, literally meaning “my liver”. This expression conveys how vital they are to your life, like the liver to the human body!

8. Arabic: Tuqburnii (تقبرني)

No, we did not mix up our Valentine’s Day and Halloween expression lists! Although this phrase literally means: “you bury me”, it’s used to imply that one would rather die and have you bury them, than live without you! A rather touching expression of love!

9. Persian (Farsi): Doret begardam (دورت بگردم)
Another poetic Persian phrase, this one translates literally to: “let me circle around you”, in effect meaning, “I would do anything for you”. We love the planetary imagery this evokes!

10. Eastern Armenian: Janit mernem (ջանիդ մեռնեմ)
Literally meaning “let me die on/for your body”, this is said to show your profound love and care for someone! A heartwarming expression of love, to be taken metaphorically, of course ;)!

 

Roses are red, violets are blue, express love in new languages, & meet NaTakallam’s awesome (refugee) language tutors, too! Treat yourself to our unique language lessons or give the Gift of Language to your loved ones, near or far. Available in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian and Spanish.

At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds. Learn a language, make a friend, change a life.

10 ways to go beyond a simple “thank you” in different languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes2020 has been a testing year for us all, to say the least. As a way of expressing our gratitude to all our language learners, language instructors, translators, interpreters, volunteers & team members throughout, here are 10 ways of saying thank you — in Arabic, French, Persian and Spanish! 

1.Tislam/Tislami (تسلم / تسلمي)

Coming from the root verb “سلم” or “salama” meaning “to come out safe/healthy”, this phrase means “May you stay safe”, and can be used as a way to thank someone, while literally also wishing well for their health and safety!

2. Ya‘tik al-‘afiya (يعطيك العافية)

Literally translating to “may [God] give you health,” this is a recognition of someone’s hard work and allows you to show your appreciation.

3. Merci de tout coeur (mekh-see dah tu ker)

A heartfelt phrase in French meaning, “thank you with all my heart”.

4. C’est très gentil à toi / vous (seh tkheh jan-tee a twa/voo)

In more formal settings, one might say “that’s very kind of you”. Remember to use “vous” when speaking in a respectful manner!

5. Daste shomā dard nakone (دست شما درد نکنه )

Never realized how poetic Persian is? This phrase means “may your hand not hurt”, often used when someone gives you a gift or prepares food for you.

6. Ghorbāne shomā (قربان شما )

Literally meaning “your sacrifice”, this is an example of a Persian taarof or an Iranian sign of etiquette and politeness, displaying humility. Read more here for context.

7. Te la/lo debo (te la/lo de-bo)

Spanish for “I owe you” – use this with friends to let them know you’re grateful for them and you got them next time!

8. (Estoy) Muy agradecido/a (ehs-toy muy agra-de-cido/a)

This is a lovely way to say “(I’m) very grateful for you” – another version of “thank you so much”, as the adjective “agradecido” is translated as “grateful”.

9. Mamnoun(t)ak/ek (ممنونك/ممنونتك)

You may hear this Arabic loanword, “mamnoun” or “ممنون”, in Arabic or Persian, as a way to say “thank you” or “I’m grateful to you”.

10. Merci (mekh-see)

Don’t be surprised if you hear “merci”, a common way to say “thank you”, beyond francophone countries, it’s also common in Middle Eastern countries and even Iran!

Happy new year, كل سنة وأنتم بخير, Feliz año nuevo, Bonne année, سال نو مبارک, from the NaTakallam family to yours 🙂 Here’s to reaching new language feats in 2021!

P.S. In case you missed our thank you series in the past month, check them here in ArabicPersianFrench and Spanish!

Shabe Yalda: The Longest Night of the Year

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Blog contributor: Sayed, NaTakallam Persian Language Partner

Shabe Yalda; a night of welcoming. A night of love, light, and rebirth of the sun. The night of Hafez and Bidel (Persian poets) and lovers in the hope of a bright sunrise and longer days to come.

Shabe Yalda (شب یلدا‎), or the Night of Yalda, is a Persian festival celebrated on the longest and darkest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere i.e., the night of the winter solstice. It is one of the most important ancient Persian traditions which is still practiced today, falling on either the 20th or the 21st of December. This festival is also called “Shabe Chelleh” (شب چله‎), or the Night of the Forty, because it marks the beginning of the first forty days of winter, believed to be the coldest and toughest days of the year.

According to the Persian calendar*, this festival is celebrated from sunset on the 30th day of the month of Azar (the 9th month of the Persian calendar and the last day of autumn) till sunrise on the 1st day of the month of Dey (the 10th month and the first day of winter). Shabe Yalda brings together family and friends to pass the longest and darkest night of the year in good company and cheer, and celebrate the “rebirth of the sun” the following day, known as “Khurram ruz” (the day of the sun). The festival has particular significance for rural communities that depend on agriculture and animal husbandry.

The word “yalda” (یلدا‎) comes from the Syriac word yēled (ܝܠܕ), meaning “birth”. However, it is likely that the festivities themselves were adopted by ancient Persians (of Zoroastrian faith) from the annual celebration of the ‘renewal of the Sun’ of the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians.

Today, Iranian, Afghan, Tajik, Kurdish, and Azeri communities come together with family and friends to celebrate Shabe Yalda. They gather, usually at the home of grandparents or elderly relatives, to spend the night waiting for the sun to rise with legends, stories, and riddles. They recite verses from the Shahnameh (the epic Book of Kings by Ferdowsi, and the longest poem ever written by a single author) and intone poems from Divan-e Hafez**, accompanied by musical instruments, singing, and delicacies such as – watermelon, persimmon,  pomegranate, and “ajil” ( آجیل), a colorful mix of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.

According to an old Persian belief, sunrise the following day would break the back of darkness, and with its radiance, remove darkness from people’s lives.

As Persians say… Shabe Yalda Mobarakشب یلدا مبارک – Happy Yalda Night!

Fascinated by Persian traditions, language, and poetry? Get more insight into the culture with NaTakallam’s native instructors! Sign up here, today.

 

*Fun fact: Did you know the Persian calendar is based on astronomical observations and is considered one of the closest to a perfect calendar according to this and this source? (The months are also aligned with the star signs!)

**Reciting poems from Divan-e Hafez is a special tradition on this night. Each member, in turn, makes a secret wish or poses a secret question (in their heart), and opens a random page in the book, in which the elder member of the family, or best reciter/interpreter, reads the selected poem out loud. It is believed that the randomly selected poem is a response, guidance or direction to the secret wish or question. It is fun to guess the secret wishes of others when in groups, as well!

 

This piece was contributed by Sayed, our Persian Language Partner, based in Indonesia.

Sayed Mohammad Nabi was born in Afghanistan right after the Soviet withdrawal but has lived as a refugee in Iran and currently resides in Indonesia. He studied French language and literature at Kabul University and has a background in translation and interpretation. In his free time, he enjoys poetry, photography, and hiking. He’s been working with NaTakallam since 2020.

5 Ways to say “thank you” in Persian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Salaam (سلام, hello)! After exploring how to say “thank you” in Spanish and Arabic in our previous posts, this week we bring you 5 culturally meaningful ways to express gratitude in Persian!

1. Sepās-gozāram (سپاسگزارم)

Mostly used in formal settings with roots dating back to ancient Persia (before the Arabic influence over the Persian language circa 600s AD), the term Sepās-gozāram (سپاسگزارم) is used to say “I am grateful”.

Want to impress? Add kheili (خیلی) meaning “very” before sepās-gozāram to emphasize your gratitude. In semi-casual settings, you can shorten the phrase to sepās (سپاس).

2. Mersi (مرسی) or Merci

Looking for a more colloquial term? You can use the French loan word, Merci – pronounced “mer-see” with a rolled r. It is an informal term which is used commonly within Farsi-speaking communities. As a response, you may hear khahesh mikonam (خواهش می‌کنم) meaning “you’re welcome”.

3. Daste shomā dard nakone (دست شما درد نکنه)

This phrase literally means “may your hand not hurt”. You can use it to express gratitude when receiving a gift*, any form of assistance from someone, or even when being served a nice meal!

Shoma (شما) is a formal pronoun for “you” (similar to the French polite form “vous”). Make this phrase informal by taking it off and tweaking the first word: Dastet dard nakone (دستت درد نکنه).

*It comes particularly handy if you happen to give/receive our Persian Gift of Conversation to/from a loved one this holiday season 😉 

4. Kheili lotf dārid (خیلی  لطف دارید)

Remember “kheili” (خیلی, very)? This phrase literally translates to “you have much kindness” or “that’s very kind of you”. This can be used when receiving compliments, gifts, or even declining favors kindly and respectfully.

5. Ghorbāne shomā (قربان شما )

Literally meaning “your sacrifice”, this expression is an example of Persian taarof, or Iranian etiquette, and a sign of politeness. When someone compliments you, instead of saying “thank you” to accept the compliment, it is more common to display modesty and deny the compliment. This is where ghorbāne shomā comes in. It is used to display humility and to acknowledge and show appreciation for the sacrifice of the other.

For a more informal use, replace the formal shoma (شما) with ghorboone to (قربون تو) or ghorboonet (قربونت).

As in Arabic, these translations can come across as quite dramatic; however, they reflect the beauty of the Persian language (and culture)!

Lastly, remember “mamnoun” (ممنون) from our Arabic blog? Persians use it, too! If you’re fascinated by the links between Arabic and Persian, check this out: the Persian words tashakkur (تشکر) and motashakkeram (متشکرم) come from the Arabic root “sh-k-r”, meaning “to thank” – exactly like shukran (شكراً)!

Practice these phrases and learn more about the Persian language and culture with NaTakallam’s language partners this holiday season!

Book a one-on-one Persian language session here. Or give our Gift of Conversation to a Persian-learning friend!

Scroll to Top
Refugees are mothers, fathers, children... & superheroes! This World Refugee Week, learn your favorite language with them & get 20% OFF ALL session purchases (no code needed). For a limited time only.
This Valentine’s Month, give the Gift of Language (available in 7 languages) or sign up to our "DUO" Integrated Arabic Curriculum in pairs - with a lover or friend! Save up to 25%.