By Amina Nazarli
Spring brings Azerbaijan not only pleasantly warm breezes, adorably longer days and blossoming trees, but also one of the most bright and happy holidays -- Novruz Bayram.
Celebrated on March 21, this holiday honors the arrival of spring. Before the main holiday, the four Tuesdays named after elements and called Su Chershenbesi (Water Tuesday), Odlu Chershenbe (Fire Tuesday), Yel Chershenbesi (Wind Tuesday), and Ilakhir Chershenbe or Torpaq Chershenbesi (Earth or Last Tuesday) are celebrated.
Water purifies and stirs; fire, soil and wind awaken the nature, and trees begin to blossom. All these symbolize the coming of spring, people have traditionally believed.
The last Tuesday before Novruz will be marked on March 14. Being a symbol of awakening the spring, Last Tuesday (Earth Tuesday) means the beginning of field work.
Earth is like a nurse to the entire world, and all the creatures of the Almighty, including humans, can find a place there. It feeds humans, and its awakening after a frosty winter means the awakening and rebirth of all living creatures.
Even in the most ancient times, people identified earth with women, considering it one of the root causes of the world's creation. Expressions such as "mother earth" and "motherland" probably resulted from these beliefs.
Celebrating Torpag Chershenbesi, our ancestors paid tribute to mother earth and its riches. A symbol of future fertility was "semeni", which, incidentally, is beginning to grow on the eve of this Tuesday. The procedure for preparing the "semeni" is a complete ritual in itself.
A young girls' favorite tradition in this Tuesday is a "gulag faly" - a divination. According to popular beliefs, you have to make a wish in the evening, and then eavesdrop at someone's door or window, and listen to what the owners are talking about. If you hear good words, it means your dream will come true. Therefore, they say that a lot of nice and pleasant things should be said on this day, because those guests whom you do not even know can hear you, and what you say will be very important to them.
Novruz, associated with many traditions, is an old holiday reflecting the culture, national and spiritual values of Azerbaijani people. This most cherished holiday of the Azerbaijanis has an ancient history, which is linked to Zoroastrianism, the oldest of the monotheist religions.
The joyous festival of spring it’s celebrated for more than 3,000 years in the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Black Sea basin, Central Asia and Near East.