Novruz marks the awakening of spring and is celebrated from 20-21 March. It is one of the most important holidays in the Azerbaijani calendar. Families gather, bake pastries, play Novruz games, and many other traditional festivities. It is an ancient holiday, which has been celebrated throughout Azerbaijan and the surrounding region for thousands of years. This year students from the European Azerbaijan School have shared their individual memories of Novruz and how they celebrate this special time of year.

Esmer Quliyeva (Year 11)

We celebrate Novruz on the 21st of March. Novruz is one of the oldest holidays in the world. Novruz is celebrated as the birthday of nature and life. There are four pre-holiday Tuesdays on the eve of Novruz. The first Tuesday is water, the second is fire, the third is breeze and the last Tuesday is earth. It means that we are preparing and waiting for Novruz. People jump over bonfires and they believe they are released from all unhappiness. We make a khoncha [decorated tray] and we put around samani [wheat / barley shoots] different symbols of spring – nuts, candles, pickles, eggs.

Amina Huseynli (Year 9a)

Novruz is one of the most popular holidays in Azerbaijan, because this holiday expresses our national values, all our traditions our fathers left for us. Novruz has its own specific dishes such as pakhlava, shekerbura, gogal, badambura – delicious cakes. With the harmony of dried foods – pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and raisins – we make a tray, called khoncha. Novruz has some games and songs about the revival of nature such as the song “Kosa-Kosa” (Kosa is the main character of Novruz and symbolizes spring) and the game “Banovsha” which I play with my friends in the yard. It’s also tradition that, at Novus, we visit relatives, kiss our grandparents’ hands, spend time with them and have fun.

Aliyya Xudiyeva (Year 7c)

The time was 21st of March, this is Novruz holiday. I woke up and collected all of my plans. I started to make a Novruz basket and put the samani to decorate the table. My mum cooked many different national cookies. I painted eggs and when we finished all of our plans, we went to my grandfather’s home. We celebrated and gave presents to them. Then we returned home. The sky was black. We ate cookies, broke eggs and did other customs. After this my brother and me took our caps and threw it at some peoples’ doors. Then we decided to throw our cap to our door. We banged our door and ran away. When we turned we saw my cap was full of cookies.

Chickak Mammadova (Year 6b)

Novruz is a national holiday. We wear new clothes, grow barley and make some skin decorations with henna. Some children put hats near doors and hide. After, people of the home put in the hat some sweets. Novruz is a historical holiday for Azerbaijan. Some people jump over a burning fire, but that is scary. When the barley fades we need to throw it into the river. And we throw after the barley some yummy sweets.

Gunay Kozimli (Year 8c)

Novruz has four symbols: water, fire, wind and land. During the last week (land), everybody goes to the shops and buys the seven symbols of Novruz, candies and sweets. They clean their homes and make a khoncha. Other symbols of Novruz are samani and candles. For example my family has five people and we put five candles at night, and we blow them out. Sometimes children listen to voices near the door. If they hear good words, their lives will be very good.

Lala Mirzayeva (Year 9a)

I can remember when we used to celebrate Novruz with my friends at their “mehle” (block). We had some traditions in our mehle, and one of them was the guys must gather wood one month before the holiday. If they didn’t, they couldn’t make the bonfire for people who lived in our mehle. Everyone had to jump over the bonfire. That was the hardest part for me and for people like me. I always waited for the bonfire to go out, and then jumped, but once I burned my coat. A hole appeared in it, and the funniest thing was that, I loved that coat, and my little sister used to like it, that’s why after me she wore it, and she still wears it sometimes. Tural Ahmedli (Year 8c)

Parents cook very delicious cakes; for example: shekerbura, pakhlava, gogal. When the Novruz holiday starts our family starts laughing and talking. Sometimes we dance. At Novruz holiday we throw our caps and neighbors put chocolates in them. We play games at Novruz. We don’t go to school. We grow grass. All homes have burning fires and we jump these fires. When we are jumping the fire we say, “What do you want?’’ Novruz is the best holiday in Azerbaijan.

Narmin Karimova (Year 11)

Novruz is an old holiday of Zoroastrians which we celebrate every year on 21st March in Azerbaijan. This holiday is in spring, because spring is the season when nature becomes more beautiful. We also call Novruz “Spring Holiday’”. Four Tuesdays before Novruz we celebrate spring’s coming. People make bonfires in the evening and jump over them. People believe that when they do this they recover from their illnesses and get free of the problems that happened that year. Children love this holiday most of all, they paint eggs and hit them together, then the winner gets the other’s eggs. There are some special characters, too. Kosa and Kechel (spring spirits, which entertainers dress up as) come at Novruz. They tell jokes and make people laugh.

Zahra Mahmudova (Year 7a)

Everybody in Azerbaijan has fun all Novruz holiday. There’s often a thing that everyone does which is to throw a cap in front of a neighbor’s door. When the neighbor opens the door and sees it they put candy and fruits in the cap. I have another memory that I can’t forget. We were dancing and singing. Then I shouted “I LOVE YOU BEYONCEEE!!” My friends covered my mouth with their hands. But it didn’t change anything. Neighbors that live near where we were having fun came and started to shout, “GO HOME and SLEEP.” Of course, it didn’t happen.