After a long winter, arrival of spring is celebrated as a holiday in Azerbaijan. Every year, the 21st of March is celebrated as the revival of the spring, which is called Novruz. An interesting fact about the day is the length of day and night in this day becomes equal. The meaning of the word “Novruz” comes from Persian, which stands for a new day.
One of the most appealing facts about Novruz is that the celebrations start one month before the actual holiday. Thus, every Tuesday during this month is considered as an exclusive day called Charshanba. A special meaning behind these 4 Charshanbas is that each represents one element of nature such as water, fire, air, and earth.
The first week is referred as Su Charshanbasi that signifies the water aspect of nature. People believe that the revival of nature begins with the renovation of water. The belief comes from ancient Turkish origins who believed in Water Gods. In this day, dropping few drops of the water to every corner of the house is a common tradition among the people. They believe that by doing so negative energy will be eliminated.
Moreover, cultivation of a Semeni which is a small plant grown up from the malt is one of the main symbols of the Novruz, which represents the refreshment of the earth. The process of cultivation starts from the first week and ends up at the last week that is Novruz day. According to the ancient belief, if semeni grows well, then the year will be productive.
Besides Semeni, preparation of special cookies and traditional sweets also starts from Su Charshanbasi. Although the types of sweets differ from family to family, there are some common ones such as shekerbura, pakhlava, qoghal, and badambura. Another special aspect of the preparation is that all family comes together for cooking that makes the occasion much more entertaining. However, not all of them are cooked on the same day. Each sort is cooked on each Tuesday.
The second Charshanba is called “Od charshanbasi” and demonstrates fire element of nature. This week has its own traditions such as making a bonfire and different games. All neighbors and families come together around the bonfire to have fun and enjoy the evening. Due to the ancient customs, people trust that by jumping over the fire, the entire sorrow and negative attitude will be removed and just joy will stay with them.
As Novruz is a traditional holiday, the best place to celebrate it is Icharishahar (Old City), which has a historical and traditional atmosphere. Addition to that, Baku Boulevard is also considered as the main destination during Charshanbas and Novruz, as various exhibitions and mini-festivals are organized there.