Novruz Bayramimiz Mubarek

Novruz holiday, celebrated Iran, Afghanistan and some other Turkish countries is celebrated in my home country- Azerbaijan as well. I am not going to write about it with clear explanations for holiday and its symbols. I will just try to depict how I used to celebrate this holiday back at home.

Preparations; a thorough cleaning of house, growing ‘Semeni’(one of the symbols), preparing nuts to cook pakhlava, shekerbura (other symbols) start early, almost a month prior spring begins (20th March). Till that date by each Tuesday of upcoming month devoted to one of the elements –earth, water, wind and fire, you feel closer to upcoming spring. In my hometown-Ganja we celebrate on the 21st of March, however in Baku they do on the evening of 20th. Well, I can say we celebrate two days since we are going back and forth between Ganja and Baku for years.

Cleaning house might not be that much fun, but gathering around the table with cousins to clean nuts one by one was a lot of fun. I remember Mother growing Semeni in different plates for us and relatives. Seeing finally Semeni grows and decorating it with red ribbon was one of those small things that make you really happy on the holiday eve. Yes, decoration of Khoncha (one of the main symbols of the holiday) has already started. You put Khoncha in the middle of a tray, and go on with other elements of it.

There are lots of things that make Novruz holiday very special. Shakarbura and pakhlava are the sweetest of those things. Let’s begin with pakhlava. Pakhlava for our khoncha, every year, is cooked by grandmother. It is a lot of work, but in the end you say it is really worth. What I loved from this process was eating the corners of the whole tray while it was still hot. Delicious moments don’t last so long. The same day or next you start cooking Shakarbura. For neighbors it is a good pretext to discuss others’ business since preparation process really takes a lot of time. Imagine, you should decorate every single shakarbura with a small special tool. Impatient people, like me, cannot stay till the end of that process. Khoncha is happening.

Dying eggs start. At least for each member of family one egg should be dyed. We call it ‘yumurta doyushu’, let’s go with literal translation and call it ‘eggs fight’. On the holiday evening, betting and fighting eggs was another tradition at home. But you should put dyed eggs in khoncha and keep them safe untill the holiday evening.

Candles, nuts- walnut, chestnut and hazelnut, some other homemade cookies (yeah, they should be homemade) and spring flowers finish the decoration process of Khoncha. Once Khoncha is ready you start cooking all kind of national meals you want, and of course, favorite meals of family members. Table is laid, ready!

Although congratulating older family members, visiting relatives or favorite persons depends on your timing, most of the time; it is done on the holiday evening though. No, it is not finished, there are still things to do. In the evening, boys take their hats and go to neighbors, knock at their doors, throw their hats to the doors and hide. Everybody in Azerbaijan knows that they should not leave the hat empty (even most of the time there are more than one). So your hat, definitely, will have some cookies, fruits or nuts in it. If it takes longer than it is supposed to, then it means family members haven’t found the owner of the hat yet.

Girls have a lot to do, they should know names of their future husbands, at what age they are going to marry, when they are going to marry and even sometimes face of their future husbands in their dreams and also answers to some other questions related to the future. There are several ways of finding it out, although you can get several different results every year. The most popular one is ‘qulaqpusdu’ or ‘qapipusdu’- going to neighbors’ or relatives’ door with a wish in your heart, and  listening to them without getting noticed, of course. (Yeah, nobody pays attention to privacy issues on that day). Everybody knows there might be a listener at the other side of their door, so most of the time you hear good words followed by laughter. Sometimes they open the door which means whatever you have wished for before going there will come true. Yeah, having the door opened to you is a bit embarrassing, yet it is the best expected result most listeners wish for.

I can’t really say at what extent all these might be true, but I can assure you that doing them is a lot of fun and joy even none of them may not be true. So while girls are busy with fortune telling, boys are busy with making ‘tongal’ which means ‘fire’ (another symbol), outside, almost in front of every building. You should jump over it at least three times. But of course, you jump over it, at least ten times. ( I have to mention that all I wanted to make a tongal in front of our dorm)

What happened to Khoncha and other dishes? Sometimes before and sometimes after doing all these fun, all the family members gather around table and feast starts. No, before that candles should be lit for each family member. I loved every single moment of this feast, but what gave me hope for the upcoming year was listening to the toasts of uncle. He is not just a great uncle, but also a person who says the best toasts.

P.S. I wish I could give more clear information about our national holiday, but I guess that was not my point, that is why I didn’t prepare it beforehand. So I might have missed something, but I hope I haven’t misinterpreted anything. On the 21st of March morning, I opened my eyes in different country and I just wanted to remember those times since I can neither go back to those days or have new ones. Yeah, I am just having my first different Novruz holiday here in Ruse, Bulgaria.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] and Sensitive, another Azerbaijani blog, also marked the event, explaining the preparation of semeni (wheat sprouts) and xoncha, a tray full of Novruz goodies. […]

    Reply

  2. I like post. But it would be better to give information about the source of holiday. Where it comes or etc. Also I didn’t have info about Afganistan that they also celebrate it. Generally in Azerbaijan, in Iran Middle Asia countries like Turkmenistan,Kazakistan, Ozbekistan and etc. So Happy Novruz:)

    Reply

    • 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Happy Novruz too. Right, as i have mentioned in the end of the post, i should have given more information about holiday, but i prepared it in the last moment. Next time, inshallah.

      Reply

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