Today, on March 20, Azerbaijan celebrates the ancient Novruz holiday, APA reports.
Novruz in Azerbaijan is a traditional holiday, which celebrates the New Year, and the coming of Spring. When North Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union, a celebration of Novruz was generally unofficial, and at times even prohibited.
Currently, in Azerbaijan, Novruz is treated as an official public holiday. In accordance with Article 105 of the Labour Code of Azerbaijan passed in 2006, workers receive seven days off for Novruz.
Usually, preparation for Novruz begins a month prior to the festival. Each of the 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. Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga).
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 decoration of the festive table is khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with Samani, green shoots from wheat seeds placed in the center, and candles and dyed eggs by the number of family members around it. The table should be set at least with seven dishes.
Novruz also has interesting traditions related to water and fire. Being the land of fire, Azerbaijan has rich traditions. Fire is the symbol of purification and clarification. Both men and women jump seven times over a fire and say, "'Give me your redness and take my yellowness." The fire is never put out with water but it is left to burn out. Young boys and girls take ashes from the fire and throw them far from their houses, which symbolizes throwing away of all of the family's mischance.