Novruz is widely celebrated in our country as the symbol of winter's leaving and spring's coming.
At the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, the period from 20 to 28 March are non-working days in Azerbaijan.
The Novruz is celebrated on the first day of spring. The first day of spring on the calendar is determined by the annual circling of the sun.
According to the scientists the holiday has ancient history. Scientific researches relate the Novruz holiday with the period of the prophet Zardush that dates 3500-5000 years back.
This holiday celebrated in the ancient Babylon for 12 days beginning in Nisan (March, April) 21. Each of the 12 days had their ceremonies and enjoyment. According to the first inscription the holiday of Novruz established in 505 B.C.
Islam figures always try to explain this holiday from religion point of view. But the prominent enlighteners Firdovsi, Rudaki, Avisenna, Nizami, Sadi, Hafiz and others proved that the age of Novruz is older. Nizami's 'Siyasetname' and Omar Khayyam's 'Novruzname' dedicated to Novruz holiday.
Novruz was unofficially celebrated in the Soviet period, for the reason that the government prohibited the celebrations and pusuited people. Despite all that each Azerbaijan family followed the hundred years old traditions and celebrated Novruz.
Nature starts to wake in Novruz and Azerbaijan people demonstratively celebrate it month ago. On Tuesdays we celebrate Su Charshabnasi (water-Tuesday), Odlu Charshanba(fire- Tuesday),Torpag Charshanba (land-Tuesday) and Akhir Charshanba(final or wind- Tuesday).according to the folk belief water in the first Tuesday purifies and stirs, fire in the second Tuesday, land on the third Tuesday and wind in the fourth Tuesday awaken the nature, the trees begin to blossom; all this symbolize spring's coming.
Noruz holiday is rich with ancient traditions and games. 'Khidir Ilyas' the symbol of productivity and blossom),'Kos-Kosa'- funny square game (the symbol of spring's coming) and fortune- telling are among them.
Novruz also have Interesting traditions relating with water and fire. Being the land of the fire Azerbaijan has rich traditions relating with it. The fire is the symbol of purification and clarification. Bonfires are made in Novruz and before the holiday comes people in Akhir Charshanba, despite of the age and gender, jump seven times over one, or once over 7 bonfires and say: 'Give me your redness and take my yellowness.' The fire is never put out by water; it burns down by itself. Young boys and girls take the ash of the fire and throw it far from the house. It is explained as follows: all the mischance of the family is thrown away with the ash.
Purification by water is related with the real peculiarity of water. Traditions related with water symbolize New Year in Azerbaijan. Jumping over flowing water in the New Year one clears himself from his past year's faults. The members of the family splash water on themselves before going to bed at night on the eve of New Year day. They say all flowing waters cease in Akhir Charshanba and everything bound to it, even trees bound down. Who drinks from this water on the evening of the New Year he saves himself from all the diseases in coming year.
The peak of Novruz is the time when the past year gives its turn to new one. According to old traditions shootings from the pistols heard in the honour of Novruz at that moment. In the N. Dubrovin wrote about it in the 19th century: 'Shootings in the cities and the villages informed springs coming to Azerbaijan.' Adam Oleary, the witness of Novruz holiday in 1637 wrote: ' Astrologer very often stood up his place and determined the height of the un with astronomic equipment and sun-clock and at the moment of equinox he said: 'New year has come' at the same moment shootings started, music heard at the towers and walls of the city. Spring holiday started.'
Azerbaijanis pay particular attention to table laid for the holiday. There should be 7 varieties of food on the table the names of which starts with letter 'S' , for example sumakh(a kind of spice), sirke(vinegar), sud(milk), samani(grown wheat), sebzi(fried meat with greens)etc. A mirror, with coloured eggs on it and candles should also be on the table. Candle is the symbol of fire and light(keeping a person from damage), mirror is the symbol of happiness.
According to the tradition all the members of the family should be at home on the first day of the holiday. People say: 'If you are not at home on the day of the holiday, you will live without home for seven years.' The outer doors kept open in the past. On the first day of the new year the lights are kept turned on whole night, for turned off light and fire is the symbol of misfortune.
Celebrating Novruz people in the villages determine the peculiarity of the coming year: weather it will be either arid or rainy and determine the degree of productivity. According to the tradition the first day of Novruz symbolizes spring, second day after it is summer, the third day is autumn and the fourth is winter. If the first day is windless and arid, so the spring is going to be favourable for agricultural works, and if it is rainy and windy so the spring is expected to be the same. On the rest of the days they determined summer, autumn and winter.
Novruz is a joyful and lovely holiday.