New Year in Azerbaijan
New Year is a much-awaited and significant public holiday in Azerbaijan that is celebrated with great zeal, joy, and enthusiasm. The festivities are marked with gatherings of family and friends who come together to share the warmth and happiness of the occasion.
As a predominantly Muslim country, Azerbaijan traditionally celebrated New Year on Novruz, the day of the vernal equinox (March 21). However, the Western New Year celebrations began to be observed after Azerbaijan became a protectorate of the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and Russian settlers started to immigrate to the land. Gradually, Western traditions blended into the local culture. Still, it was not until Azerbaijan became a part of the Soviet Union that New Year was officially declared an Azerbaijani holiday by Moscow.
After the country's independence, a newly created International Solidarity Day started to be observed on December 31, while January 1 continued to be a day of celebration for New Year. The holiday is now a beautiful blend of traditional and modern customs, reflecting the country's rich history and diverse culture.
During the preparations for the festivities, Azerbaijanis decorate their homes with an evergreen tree, commonly known as a New Year tree, which was introduced to Azerbaijan from Russia. The tree is adorned with lights, ornaments, and other decorations, adding to the festive spirit of the occasion.
The New Year celebrations culminate in a splendid feast on the evening of December 31, where family and friends gather around the table to enjoy traditional Azerbaijani dishes and delicacies. Children eagerly await the arrival of Shakhta Baba (Father Frost) and Karkyz (Snow Maiden), who bring gifts for them.
As Azerbaijanis are very hospitable and family-oriented, most celebrate New Year with close relatives and friends. Once the clock strikes midnight, spectacular fireworks light up the sky throughout the country, with the best displays taking place at Baku Boulevard in the capital. The following day is a non-working day that people use either to rest or to continue in celebration.
In conclusion, the New Year in Azerbaijan is a time of joy, togetherness, and happiness, filled with traditions, customs, and rituals passed down through generations. It is a beautiful celebration that reflects the country's rich history, diverse culture, and the warmth and hospitality of its people.
Novruz is a widely celebrated holiday in our country, marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is celebrated on the first day of spring based on the annual circling of the sun on the calendar. According to scientific research, the holiday has an ancient history that dates back to the prophet Zardush, who lived around 3500-5000 years ago.
The holiday was celebrated in ancient Babylon for 12 days, beginning on March 21, and each of the 12 days had its ceremonies and traditions. The holiday of Novruz was officially established in 505 B.C. However, prominent figures such as Ferdowsi, Rudaki, Avicenna, Nizami, Sadi, Hafiz, and others have proven that the age of Novruz is older. Nizami's 'Siyasetname' and Omar Khayyam's 'Novruzname' are dedicated to the Novruz holiday.
During the Soviet period, the government prohibited the celebration of Novruz, but each Azerbaijani family followed the centuries-old traditions and celebrated it unofficially. In Azerbaijan, people start celebrating Novruz a month before the actual holiday. On each Tuesday, we celebrate Su Charshabnasi (water), Odlu Charshanba (fire), Torpag Charshanba (land), and Akhir Charshanba (wind). Each Tuesday has its significance and symbolises the awakening of nature, with water purifying and stirring on the first Tuesday, fire on the second Tuesday, land on the third Tuesday, and wind on the fourth Tuesday.
Novruz is a holiday that is rich in ancient traditions and games. These traditions include "Khidir Ilyas," the symbol of productivity and blossom, "Kos-Kosa," a funny square game that symbolises spring's arrival, and fortune-telling. Novruz also has exciting traditions relating to water and fire. Being the land of fire, Azerbaijan has rich traditions relating to it. Fire is a symbol of purification and clarification. Bonfires are made during Novruz, and before the holiday, people jump seven times over one or once over seven bonfires and say, "Give me your redness and take my yellowness." The fire is not put out by water; it burns down by itself. Young boys and girls take the ash of the fire and throw it far from the house, symbolising the throwing away of all the mischances of the family.
Novruz is an essential holiday in Azerbaijan that marks the transition from the old year to the new one. It is rooted in traditions related to water, which is believed to have purifying properties. For instance, people splash water on themselves before bedtime on the eve of New Year's Day to cleanse themselves of the past year's faults. Additionally, drinking water from a particular source on the evening of the New Year is said to protect one from diseases for the coming year.
The holiday is celebrated with various customs and rituals, including pistols firing when the past year gives way to the new one. People also pay particular attention to the table laid for a holiday, which should have seven varieties of food whose names start with the letter "S," such as sumach and stroke. A mirror with coloured eggs and candles should also be on the table. The candle represents fire and light, which protect against harm, while the mirror symbolises happiness.
Celebrating Novruz is a family affair; all family members are expected to be home on the first day of the holiday. Keeping the lights on all night is also a tradition, as turning off lights and fire symbolises misfortune. In the past, the outer doors of homes were kept open on the first day of the New Year.
Finally, Novruz is a holiday all Azerbaijanis enjoy, regardless of their background. It is a time of fun and festivities that brings people together to celebrate the arrival of the new year and the hope and promise it brings.