"Honing Skills" for a Happy Home

Women are domestic engineers and social directors of most homes around the globe - even in the most modern families and societies. They are able to turn every family event in to an opportunity for loving and bonding with each other. I didn't appreciate the power of domestic arts and the important role women could have in preserving family and cultural traditions until later in my life. I was raised in the seventies when women were viewed as being not "elegant" if they spent much time cooking or sewing. I became an engineer and to me living in my professional suite and competing with mess was very natural.

However, some of my best memories remain from the time I was growing up in Iran. During the time of the year when the earth rejuvenates to spring season and the fragrance of blossoms and hyacinths fill up the air, Persians celebrate Nowruz (or Norouz) meaning “new day”. The “International Day of Nowruz” is currently on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and is known as a “green” and environmentally friendly festival of the world.

In our house, a month in advance of this festival, tasks such as the house cleaning, redoing our closets and washing curtains and bedspreads would begin. The older and more traditional women of the family would start baking specialty pastries. For two weeks after the start of new year, the focus was to just visit family and friends, or collecting brand new bills and gold coins as gifts from elder members of family. There were many opportunities for us kids to learn, play and have fun. We wore our brand-new clothes to represent newness of our lives as well as the earth.

However, now I understand the importance of bonding through domestic arts & crafts for bringing family together, sharing stories and creating memories.

Author: Shadi Hariri is a New Jersey based engineer and IY board director.


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