Turkish Coffee Night, Slovenian Banquet, and the Persian New Year

Every month we look forward to attending Turkish Coffee Night hosted by our friend Murat Gurer, Executive Director of the North Ohio Niagara Foundation, at the Turkish Cultural Center on Madison Avenue in Lakewood because it is a place where people of different cultural backgrounds can come together to enjoy fellowship, education on some aspect of Turkish life, and, of course, wonderful food. Last Friday’s educational program was about the “Instruments of Anatoli” presented by Murat’s lovely wife Seyma Gurer who talked about the various Turkish instruments used to produce folk music like the Saz and the Tanbur (the equivalents of a guitar), the zurna (the equivalent of a flute), and the davul (the equivalent of a drum). Seyma incorporated films of people playing these instruments into her presentation so that we could better understand them. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a dinner of Turkish food which was a delight as always but especially for those of us who are vegetarians.
Every year the Federation of Slovenian National Homes organizes a banquet to honor people who have made a significant contribution to the Slovenian community of Cleveland and this year this banquet was held at the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair Avenue and was absolutely packed with people. We made our way through the crowd and congratulated Rose Marie Jisa (President of the Slovenian Genealogy Society International) and Tony Hiti (President of the Slovenian American Heritage Foundation) who were honored as Slovene Woman and Man of the Year for 2014. To be sure, there were also other honorees such as our friend Raymond Marvar who was named St. Clair Slovenian Home Man of the Year 2014. Other friends we got to see there were the Most Reverend Bishop A. Edward Pevec (who gave the Invocation), Tony Petkovsek (Special Guest of the Banquet), and August Pust. During dinner, everyone was entertained by the Jeff Pecon Orchestra who traveled from table to table like serenading minstrels.

Nothing could be more welcoming or, perhaps, more relieving to most of the people in Northeast Ohio than what was at our next stop for Saturday which was a Nowruz or Persian New Year Gathering celebrating the beginning of Spring (HOPEFULLY) and the re-birth of Nature. This entire affair was organized by the Iranian students of CWRU and took place at the CWRU Farm in Hunting Valley. Not surprising, people journeyed from as far away as Akron to be there which made the organizers happy as they worked very hard on this event—even ordering Iranian food from an establishment in Chicago which was transported it here for the occasion!

Particularly prominent was the Halfseen Table (aka the “Table of the 7 S’) which was explained to us by a knowledgeable man as we stood in line for our dinner. Accordingly, this table contained seven items all starting with the letter “s” in the Persian language so there were seebs (or apples representing beauty), seer (or garlic representing good health), serkeh (or vinegar representing patience), sonbol (or hyacinth representing the season of spring), sabzeh (or sprouts for representing rebirth), sekeh (or coins representing prosperity), and samanu (or sweet pudding for fertility). Let it be noted that the letter “s” is a symbol of the season of spring and the number “7” is considered a lucky number (indeed let us hope), and all of the above-mentioned seven items are symbols of spring and renewal.

Above all, we enjoyed having the opportunity to visit with students, professors, and families of people from Iran and get their perspective on the history of this country and the current happenings there.