Novruz is considered as a revival of nature in Azerbaijan. In the past, it used to be celebrated as a beginning of New Year. Although the new year doesn’t start in March any more,people still prevent this ancient belief and celebrate with great joy.
As I mentioned in previous story, Novruz celebrations start one month before. I have talked about the first 2 weeks. Let’s discover what’s next. :)
The third week of the month before the Novruz is called “Yel Charshanbasi”, which represents the air element of nature. The weather is always windy on this day every year. According to an ancient belief, the wind awakes the nature with its extreme power.
However, the most interesting days are the last Charshanba (which people are dealing with last preparation for the actual holiday) and the actual holiday, as people do the most entertaining activities on those days. Firstly, the last Charshanba (Tuesday) is called “Torpaq Charshanbasi” and symbolizes the earth element of nature. This Tuesday is famous for its huge bonfire and special meals. All special and traditional sweets become ready to be served. Moreover, a special set of sweets, nuts and colored eggs with Semeni (a small plant grown for Novruz) in the middle is prepared, which is called “Khoncha”.
Besides all tasty stuff, there are amusing traditional games. One of the most common is “Papaq atma”, which translated directly as “Throwing a hat”. The rule is that, children throw their hats in front of the neighbors’ door and hide. A person who opens the door puts some sweets and nuts in it, which is demonstrating the importance of sharing what you have at home
Moreover , there are some ancient customs such as fortune telling. Young girls gather in order to play fortune games. By these games, they are trying to guess features of their future lover, as well as in which age they are going to marry.
The holiday is celebrated in a country level and government organizes many public attractions. The most worthy of seeing is the caravan that walks through the central streets. The caravan contains traditional figures such as music, phaetons, horses and many others.
Apart from all the mentioned entertainments, every year special concert program is organized in front of Icherisheher Gates. Many local celebrities attend this concert and the fireworks make the night spectacular at the end.
Novruz which is the actual holiday is also celebrated in the same way with the same traditions. However, one of the most engaging fact about 21 March is that special shows and exhibitions are prepared for public. The main parts of the city where you can enjoy those amusements are Baku Boulevard and Icherisheher (Old Town). The program includes dancing show, mini open-air theater and traditional wrestling. In addition, handmade crafts and antiques are demonstrated in the exhibitions.