Novruz in Azerbaijan
Novruz is a traditional holiday, which celebrates the New Year, and the coming of spring in Azerbaijan Republic. 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 shekerbura, pakhlava, shorgoghal and a great variety of national cuisine.
This is an ancient holiday, which can be traced back 5,000 years to the Sumerians and the Babylonians civilisations. Novruz begins on either 20 March or 21 March, on the spring equinox, when the days and nights are equal length, with days then becoming longer signifying the arrival of warmer weather. Different ancient traditional games and shows such as “Kos-kosa” (symbolizes the coming of spring), “Khidir Ilyas” (the symbol of fertility and blossom), fortune telling, etc. are held at musical gatherings take place at Novruz holiday.
Folk singers sing songs, the wrestlers test their strength. The decoration of the festive table is khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with Samani, green shoots from wheat seeds placed in the centre and candles and dyed eggs by the number of family members around it. The table should be set, at least, with seven dishes.