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Novruz in Azerbaijan


Novruz is a traditional Azerbaijani holiday, which celebrates the New Year, and the coming of spring.

It is celebrated on 20-21st of March every year when the nature is waking up and new life is initiated.

Usually preparation for Novruz begins a month prior to the festival. Each of forthcoming 4 weeks is devoted to one of the four elements and called accordingly in Azerbaijan. Each Tuesday people celebrate the day of one of the four elements - water, fire, earth and wind. People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shakarbura, pakhlava and a great variety of "national cuisine". Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga). As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended.

Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.

The decoration of the festive table is khoncha; a big silver or copper tray with Samani placed in the centre and candles and dyed eggs by the number of family members around it. The table should be set, at least.

The spring holiday Novruz is celebrated today in many Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.