Why you shouldn’t miss the Novruz Festival in Azerbaijan

If you find delight in pleasant gatherings and love to have a good time with family, the most awaited and cheerful celebrations of the start of agricultural activities and restoration of nature and sunny days in Azerbaijan awaits you!!

Novruz Bayrami, as the festival is known, is a traditional Azerbaijani holiday that signals the start of springtime in the Land of magic colors. A family affair that celebrates the equality of the people, drawing together various sections of the population to enhance their mutual admiration, mutual understanding, and social coherence.

The Festival takes place in Azerbaijan every year between March 20-22, 2017.. It is celebrated for seven days which is characterized by deep cultural heritage including grand banquets, fascinating customs and reawakened sensation of good cheer and hope for the New Year.

Novruz Festival celebrates renewal and rebirth, dating back as far as 5,000 years ago. The Festival is recognized as part of the Azerbaijan’s Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. It often begins four weeks before the definite day of the festivity, with associations to nature and its elements. Four Wednesdays of the four weeks are usually dedicated to one of the each nature elements. i.e. Water (Su Charhshanba), Fire (Odlu Charhshanba) Earth (Torpaq Charhshanba), Last Wednesday (Akhir Charhshanba). As with most significant festivals in Azerbaijan, a substantial part of Novruz celebrations revolve around food where children are given sweets. Tables are set with Khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with the most exquisite decorations such as hand-painted eggs, candles and Semeni-green wheat sprouts that symbolize rebirth. The table is also filled with traditional dishes, since the Azerbaijanis believe that a table filled with food guarantees its abundance for the rest of the year. So throughout the holiday, the women of the house, make sure that the table is set with no less than seven different dishes.

Apart from the joys this festival brings to families, the ceremonies provide awesome outdoor activities. The highlight of the holiday is a ritual where a bonfire is lit, and people jump over it. The ritual is considered an irreplaceable attribute of the celebration, and signifies renovation and growing in strength. Families from GCC will love this festival as their children can join Azerbaijani children in roaming around the neighborhood knocking on doors and leaving hats, hiding nearby to gather sweets. A tradition that may remind them of Qatar’s Garangao Festival, GCC’s Qarqe’an, Lebanon’s Eid il-Burbara, or Western world’s Halloween.

Novruz celebrations breathes peace and clemency as families come together. So pack your bags and get ready to experience the family spirit, togetherness, delicious halal food, culture and sweet symbols of Novruz in Azerbaijan. Don’t forget to participate in benevolence and charity for those in need during the celebrations. It allows purification while renewal fire ritual cleanses you.

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