Novruz Bairami: the spring takes over from the winter

Holiday: Novruz Bairami. 

When? On 21-23 March.

Where? Azerbaijan Republic, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey (by Kurds), Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and some other countries.

The meaning and history. This is a very old pre-Islamic holiday that celebrates the coming of Spring and New Year. Novruz means the rebirth of nature, the triumph of life, and hope for a generous harvest. It has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in Greater Iran including the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Western Asia. The old traditions of Zoroastrianism are living now in Azerbaijan, where Novruz is treated as an official public holiday.

How it is celebrated. Novruz is the favourite national holiday. Usually preparation for it starts a month prior to the festival. Each of forthcoming 4 weeks is devoted to one of the four elements. People clean their houses, buy new clothes, paint eggs, cook national dishes such as pakhlava, shorgoghal, shekerbura. 

There is a very beautiful custom. Seven days before Novruz people, especially kids, make bonfires and jump over them telling magic words: “Let all my miseries and hardships burn out in this fire”. Throughout the country, in the villages and in the cities, you can see two characters: Kechal and Kos. They play the victory of spring over the winter.

Novruz is a family holiday. The whole family should get together to have a festive meal; candles are lit; at least seven dishes should be on the table. They symbolize the rich New Year. The main decoration of the festive table is khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with green shoots from wheat seeds and sweets, placed in the center.

Family traditions.
Naila Pashaeva (40), an accountant, was born in Azerbaijan. When she was a child, she travelled a lot with her family, but in the last few years before moving to Villach she lived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. She remembers how people celebrate Novruz very well.


“It’s seems to be the most beautiful holiday of the year”, she tells. “People wear new clothes, white color is very important. Relatives and friends visit each other with the presents and good wishes. The embankment of Baku becomes the main place of celebration. People dance national dances, sing folk songs about coming of Spring. Hand-made souvenirs are sold on every corner. A lot of tourists come to Baku on Novruz. The great culmination of this day is a huge firework display.


Spring takes over in the night from 20 to 21 March. If on the first day of spring you eat a piece of sugar, you will protect yourself from troubles and diseases for the whole year. On the morning, it’s very good to wash your face with the spring water, a symbol of purity”.


For Naila Pashaeva Novruz Bairami means a renovation in all areas of life, so she wishes all our readers a wonderful spring and inspiration for positive change.

Text: Vita Vitrenko, Photos provided by Naila Pashaeva.