NOWRUZ: THE BIRTH OF SPRING
Nowruz is one of the most important holidays of Azerbaijanis. Nowruz is a feast of spring, the start of the New Year. Azerbaijanis before the celebration of Nowruz, celebrate four days of winter which symbolize the end of the Old and the coming of the New Year. We are talking about four pre-holiday Tuesdays:
- Su Chershenbe (Water Tuesday); - Od Chershenbe (Fire Tuesday); - Yel Chershenbe (Wind Tuesday) ; - Torpag Chershenbe (Earth Tuesday). According to popular beliefs, on the first Tuesday the water is renewed in the nature, the still waters come to motion. The fire is renewed on the second, and the wind opens the trees buds. On the fourth Tuesday, (the last) the earth gets refreshed and this is symbol of beginnig of spring. All this sounds like a fairy tale, so Nowruz is celebrated throughout Azerbaijan with pleasure, celebrating with all the yard or even with the whole village! By the way, it is common among young people to tell fortunes before the sunset on the day of “Akhyr Chershenbe” (the last Tuesday).
Among the pre-holiday ceremonies, the main ritual is the preparation of the symbol of the holiday - Sameni (wheat grown), which symbolizes fertility and has a spiritual significance. The ceremony of Sameni preparation is accompanied by ritual songs and dances. The last day of the “old year” is also considered a special holiday for Azerbaijanis. On the holiday eve the whole family gathers at home. The holiday is celebrated in Azerbaijan on March 21 (the vernal equinox day), and this day is a day-off. On the first day of the New Year, it is a tradition to get up early. The festive table on this day is very special. It is essential on this day to have seven dishes that names begin with the letter “s”. This sumakh (herb), sud (milk), sirke (vinegar), sameni, sabzy (greens), etc. In addition to the listed dishes, there should be candles, painted eggs, etc. are placed on the table. All of the above has a symbolic meaning. In the holiday eve mass parties with traditional games and contests like horse or camel racings are held on this day in the city outskirts in which both men and women take part. The great Nowruz holiday is the most ancient and beautiful holiday of Azerbaijanis. We recommend to travel to the regions of Azerbaijan on the spring holidays to absorb all the traditions and attitude of local people to such ceremonies and sacraments.