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-  Marriage and Family
-  Diet and Eating
-  Socializing
-  Recreation
-  Persian New Year










The father is usually considered to be the head of the household. The elderly are respected and cared for by younger members of the extended family. Relatives remain very close to each other. Parents feel a lifelong commitment to children, often providing them with financial support well after marriage. Unmarried children usually live with their parents until they marry, regardless of their age. Distinctions between upper and lower social classes were blurred during the costly war with Iraq in the 1980s, but recent economic changes have allowed a small business class to flourish.

Marriage is a highly valued institution, and most people expect to marry and have a family. Weddings are occasions for elaborate celebrations. Women marry between the ages of 18 and 25; men marry somewhat later because of military service or because they are not earning enough money to start a family.



The diet varies throughout the country, but in general Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Under current law, alcohol consumption is forbidden. Rice and wheat bread are the most common staples. Rice is often served with a meat and vegetable stew. Yoghurt, also very common, is served with rice or other foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits are important components of the diet. White cheeses are also popular.

The midday meal is the most important meal of the day, and dinner is usually served later in the evening, after 8 PM. Elaborate meals will often be prepared for guests, and a host may insist that several helpings be eaten. Tea is almost always offered to guests. During the entire month of Ramezan (Ramadan), most Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn to dusk, but the fast is broken in the evenings, when families eat together and visit friends and relatives.



A handshake is the customary greeting in Iran. A slight bow or nod while shaking hands shows respect. Since the 1979 revolution, women have not been allowed to shake hands with men in public. To shake hands with a child shows respect for the parents. A person will often ask about the health of the other and his or her family. A typical Farsi greeting is Dorood (“Greetings”); an appropriate response is Dorood-bar-to (“Greetings to you”). People often use Arabic greetings, such as Salam (“Peace”). A common parting phrase is "Khoda hafiz". Formal titles and surnames are used to show respect. It is usual to stand when someone enters the room for the first time and when someone leaves.

Hospitality is a cherished tradition in Iran. Iranian philosophy claims a guest is a gift from, or friend of, God. Respecting the guest is a way of respecting God, and so the guest will become the centre of attention in an Iranian home, and everything is done to make them feel comfortable. Visitors usually remove their shoes before entering carpeted areas of a home, although this custom is not often practiced in larger cities. Generous compliments are welcomed by the host and are likely to be returned.

When invited to dinner, it is customary for the guest to take a potted plant, cut flowers, or sweets for the host. Iranians do not open gifts in front of the giver. The oldest man or woman present receives the greatest respect. Visiting is a significant part of the culture, and families and friends visit one another often; the common term for visiting is "did-o-bazdid".




Socializing with family or friends is the main recreational activity, along with visits to teahouses and the bazaar, and strolls through the streets. Iranians enjoy such sports as soccer, wrestling, the martial arts, basketball, volleyball, and table tennis. In cities, people also enjoy going to the cinema to see films, which are subject to strict censorship laws.




The Iranian New Year, called Norooz (Nowrooz), is celebrated around 21 March, or the vernal equinox. This is an ancient  Zoroastrian holiday, and is believed to derive from pastoral festivals heralding the arrival of spring. The holiday lasts for 13 days, and involves the wearing of new clothes, gift-giving, visiting friends and relatives, and eating special foods. In particular, seven foods beginning with the letter “S” are taken, and symbolic objects are placed on the table, including a mirror, candlesticks, and a bowl with a single green leaf floating in it. On the final day of the holiday, families go on picnics.

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