- The Shahnameh is such a part of the culture that it is referenced and quoted by everyone from professors to butchers.
- The Iranian New Year is celebrated on the spring equinox, rather than January 1.
- The original religion of Iran (before Islam) was Zoroastrianism. People who practice Zoroastrianism now make up less than one percent of Iran's population, and they are not allowed to practice their religion.
- The Iranian version of Santa Claus is called Hajji Firuz. He wears red satin and dances in the streets with a trumpet and a tambourine.
- The Persian word "pairi daeza" means walled garden, and it's where the English word "paradise" comes from.
- In the eleventh century, the city of Herat, Afghanistan, grew 120 varieties of grapes.
- The word "Afghans" was originally related to the ancient Persian word for "noisy."
- Aryans were originally a group of people that lived in the area that now includes Iran. The term actually has very little to do with how Hitler co-opted it for Nazism.
Premise of the book: Nicholas Jubber travels through Iran and Afghanistan, as well as some countries of Central Asia, in an effort to see what life is like there today. In looking at the present, however, he discovers how much the past Persian culture is still a part of everyday lives in these countries - especially (and surprisingly) the epic poem Shahnameh written in the eleventh century.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: It took me a little while to get into this book. To begin with, it seems like Jubber was just interested in the hidden drinking and parties of Iran. But once he began focusing on the Shahnameh and its echoes in modern Iranian culture, I was really drawn into the picture he was creating. This book turned out to be a fascinating look at Iran and Afghanistan, and I applaud his courage in the experiences he had to write it - traveling even into the center of the Taliban region of Afghanistan. If you're looking for insight into both the past and present of this area of the world, then you would find what you're looking for in this book.
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
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