Novruz is one of the most ancient holidays in Azerbaijan. Only after the fall of Soviet rule, people started celebrating Novruz more openly. It is the celebration spring’s arrival. It is celebrated during the spring equinox, March 20 or 21. This year it falls on March 20th. Novruz originates from Zoroastrian tradition, that the arrival of spring symbolizes a new year.
Zoroastrianism was widely practiced in the region. Therefore, Novruz is deeply emblemed in our culture, surviving for many centuries. Every year, Azerbaijanis go out of their way to prepare for the coming of a new year. Houses are cleaned, shekerbura and paxlava are baked, samanis are planted, eggs are colored to kids’ taste, candles are lit,etc.
Preparations usually start a month prior to the holiday. This month, each week stands for a various element; in the order of- water, fire, soil, and finally the last week, nature awakens with the arrival of spring. During these four weeks, every Tuesday bonfires are lit and family members and neighbors are gathered around the fire. They take turns jumping over the fire. By jumping over the fire, one leaves all negativity and bad luck behind in the old year.
Living in the U.S. for a long time, I forgot what it was like to prepare for Novruz. But last year that changed, I got to experience Novruz at its best form. I got to do everything I wished for so many years. One day, family members gathered to make our traditional treats, from scratch that is. Today, everything can be bought from bakeris around the city. But I can assure you nothing can replace that feeling of having warm shekerbura that is just taken out of the oven with a nice cup of tea. Moreover, these kinds of traditions reunite families. I got to spend such a quality time with my family members who I haven’t spoken with more than an hour for many years. Paxlava reuniting families, is what I call this:) Moreover, I did get to finally jump over small bonfire, another wish made real. This year, I am back in the U.S. and I can’t make a bonfire. My neighbors may be compelled to call 911:) Nevertheless, I anticipate there will be more Novruzs well spent in Azerbaijan.
Next time we are learning to make a semeni:) Keep tuned!
Here is a nice photo I found online. It explains the four elements..