Nowruz holiday is one of the most ancient Turkic holidays marked on 20-22 March. It symbolizes the arrival of spring and means abundance and prosperity. The most widespread myth goes as follows: “An oghuz (Turkish tribesman) living in a cave was afraid of the cold winter, which is why he always put aside some food. One winter happened to be very long and the oghuz ran out of his food supply. So he had to go out to get something to eat, but failed. On his way back he came across a wolf cub and explained his situation to him. The wolf cub told him that he would find a herd of sheep, wheatear, a spinning wheel and a hand-mill at the, that he can eat the lamb, make some clothes from the wool and hide, grind the wheatear in the mill to bake some bread. Then the spring will come. But, he said, you will have to raise the wheatear and the sheep yourself, shedding your own sweat. If you can’t do this, you can’t survive.

The oghuz went ahead. The wolf cub proved right. The oghuz followed his advice and it worked out quite well for him.From then on, he worked hard every year, while on the 30th day of the period of forty cold days from the beginning of winter he started preparations for holidays. He ate, drank, played music, visited his relatives on the last four Wednesdays of that year. The oghuz started counting the year from that very day and gave it the name of Nowruz. He started celebrating and Nowruz brought him abundance. According to another Turkic myth, Nowruz is the day when the first human child was born. The old Turkic calendar describes this day as the birthday of Adam.

Nowruz is also linked to another historic event. There is a legend that the son of Iranian and Turanian Keykavus, Sayavush (Siyavarsharap, Avesta), came to Afrasiyab’s country. Afrasiyab received him very well and even wedded his daughter to him. To be remembered, Sayavush decided to build the Bukhara gate in Afrasiyab’s country. However, their enemies managed to set them Aghainst each other. As a result, Afrasiyab had him killed and brought to the Bukhara gate. Zoroastrians buried him at the Eastern gate. Different theories suggest that the day Sayavush was buried was called Nowruz. It is also believed that Zoroastrians considered that day to be the first day of the year.

Nowruz in Zoroastrianism

According to Zoroastrian beliefs, Nowruz is linked to four most important symbols of life: water, fire, wind and flames. Zoroastrianism led to the creation of a series of fire-related holidays. Each of the last four Wednesdays has a symbolic name. Nowruz celebrations, beliefs and rituals are described in Avesta, the main book of Zoroastrians.Therefore, there must be seven dishes starting with letter “s” on the table on Nowruz. There must be an abundant selection of dishes, parties must be baked in every household and everyone must be at home. Before the holidays, cleaning work should be done, everyone must be clean and wear new clothes. On the first of the last four Wednesdays, some wheat is placed on a plate and watered, so that there is semeni (sprouted wheat) by the holidays. Semeni is grown in every household. The main attribute of Nowruz, semeni symbolizes abundance. In some places, on Absheron in particular, it is used to cook halva. Baklava, shakarbura, shorgoghali, the holiday pilaf are absolutely necessary on holidays. Also on Nowruz, eggs are painted and egg-breaking competitions are held.

The most colorful characters of the holiday are Kosa and Kechal. Going from door to door, they receive their share of the holiday feast and become the main source of fun. Govurga (fried wheat) is cooked and served together with walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins. There is always a hat throwing tradition on Nowruz, as children put a hat at a door, knock on it and hide. The tradition goes that the host of a house should fill the hat with Nowruz delicacies. There are many other rituals and beliefs, some of them change depending on the region. What never changes in the Nowruz bonfire. Starting from the last Wednesdays of the year, including the holiday night, bonfires are built in every neighborhood. All youngsters take an active part in the tradition. The bonfire is built when it gets dark, people gather around it, joke, laugh, have fun and dance, and when the fire becomes smaller, jump over it saying “let all my pains and sorrows stay with you”, thus leaving all problems behind. This is how the new year starts. According to Zoroastrian beliefs, Nowruz is linked to four most important symbols of life: water, fire, wind and flames. Zoroastrianism led to the creation of a series of fire-related holidays. Each of the last four Wednesdays has a symbolic name. Nowruz celebrations, beliefs and rituals are described in Avesta, the main book of Zoroastrians.

Therefore, there must be seven dishes starting with letter “s” on the table on Nowruz. There must be an abundant selection of dishes, parties must be baked in every household and everyone must be at home. Before the holidays, cleaning work should be done, everyone must be clean and wear new clothes. On the first of the last four Wednesdays, some wheat is placed on a plate and watered, so that there is semeni (sprouted wheat) by the holidays. Semeni is grown in every household. The main attribute of Nowruz, semeni symbolizes abundance. In some places, on Absheron in particular, it is used to cook halva. Baklava, shakarbura, shorgoghali, the holiday pilaf are absolutely necessary on holidays. Also on Nowruz, eggs are painted and egg-breaking competitions are held. The most colorful characters of the holiday are Kosa and Kechal. Going from door to door, they receive their share of the holiday feast and become the main source of fun. Govurga (fried wheat) is cooked and served together with walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins.

There is always a hat throwing tradition on Nowruz, as children put a hat at a door, knock on it and hide. The tradition goes that the host of a house should fill the hat with Nowruz delicacies. There are many other rituals and beliefs, some of them change depending on the region. What never changes in the Nowruz bonfire. Starting from the last Wednesdays of the year, including the holiday night, bonfires are built in every neighborhood. All youngsters take an active part in the tradition. The bonfire is built when it gets dark, people gather around it, joke, laugh, have fun and dance, and when the fire becomes smaller, jump over it saying “let all my pains and sorrows stay with you”, thus leaving all problems behind. This is how the new year starts.

Nowruz in ancient sources
According to poet Ferdowsi’s poetic opus “Shahnameh”, the holiday was celebrated in early March, the first month of the Iranian calendar. Nezami Ganjavi’s “Iskandarnameh” and Ali-Shir Navai’s “Sadd-i-Iskandari” suggest that Now-ruz was a major holiday among Turkic peoples in 350 B.C. It is not by chance that Iskandar visits the Barda ruler Nushaba on Nowruz in Ganjavi’s “Iskandarnameh”.

Source: Authentic Azerbaijan