Novruz -- the Big Azerbaijani Holiday
Baku Travel Blog› entry 86 of 119 › view all entries
March 20th, 2008 – by: mickeyd302
Before getting into this holiday further, I should explain Azerbaijan is often referred to as the "Land of Fire." There are temples north of Baku where fire was once worshipped and flames still continually burn. Furthermore, there are areas here where flames burn permanently from the natural supply of oil and gas oozing from the ground.
Novruz is an ancient "new years" holiday which predates Islam and even Zoroastrianism, one of the first monothesist religions, although both religions adopted this festivals and added to it. It coincides with the Spring Equinox. It literally means "new day" in Persian although in Iran the festival is downplayed. While Novruz officially occurs on the 21 of March, the holiday begins on the 20th after sunset.
The days leading up to the festival are also important. Two weeks before the festival, families start spring cleaning their homes and start growing wheat and barley on special plates. Each Tuesday before Novruz has special significance and each represents one of the four elements. The final Tuesday represents fire.
There are many traditions during Novruz.
Some kids tried to show me a game. It was an egg game where two chldren each had an egg. One tapped the other egg and whichever one cracked lost. I have no idea if they had a champion egg of the area or not, but I am sure even if it was a champion it would not get spared from being ate.
Later in the evening, there were fireworks from behind the main government building. I had a good view from the walkway in front of my apartment.
Even later, i went to a club, expecting for a lot of people to be out, unfortunately it was namely guys out and about. After a few beers I got bored and returned home to check the UNLV score and crashed.
Talking with some friends and students here, i have been told that most people spend this holiday with their family. If there is one thing that I will say about most Azerbaijani people, it would be that family is huge. It is endearing even if you do not have a family.
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