Novruz Bayram – a new month, new year and the cherished first day of spring – is closer with each passing Chershenbe (Tuesday).
Fire Tuesday or as it is called here Od Chershenbesi, a symbol of warmth and home hearth, will be celebrated on February 28 this year.
Celebrations related to Novruz, which is marked in the country on March 21, begin a month before the actual holiday with Novruz Tuesdays. The four Tuesdays are named after the main four elements, called Su Chershenbesi (Water Tuesday), Od Chershenbesi (Fire Tuesday), Torpaq Chershenbesi (Earth Tuesday), and Hava or Akhir Chershenbe (Wind or Last Tuesday).
Last week saw the first Tuesday, which symbolizes life, purity and freshness. The second Tuesday will embody fire, which means warmth and comfort.
Od Chershenbesi notifies that too little remains for warm spring. It’s believed, on this day, the rays of the heavenly fire — Sun, melts snow and nature comes alive.
Fire is somewhat sacred in Azerbaijan, also known as Land of Fire. Some scientists suggest that the presence of fire in the festive rituals is not accidental, as it is recognized as a symbol of life, what is more important, it gives warmth, showing that spring is on its way.
It is very important to light a bonfire in every yard on Fire Tuesday, since fire means the year will be warm and fertile. People jump over the fire, because it is traditionally believed that all troubles and hardships will be left behind, and the coming year will be happy and prosperous.
There is also another belief that on the Fire Tuesday no one should leave his/ her house empty and candles for each family member must be lit on the festival table.
Novruz, a holiday marking equality and fraternity, is celebrated as the symbolic revival of nature.
People say “A good beginning makes a good ending”. So, it is very important for Azerbaijanis to celebrate this festive holiday with a clean house and a richly-set table. The table must be set with at least seven dishes.
As part of the table setting, families will display a khoncha, a big silver or copper tray with semeni placed in the center, candles and dyed eggs for each family member around it. On this day, the groom will give his bride a khoncha with sweets and golden and silver adornments. The bride’s family also has to send gifts to the groom’s house.
Thus Novruz, long celebrated by Azerbaijanis, is a holiday of truly national, humane character and of benevolent, noble purpose.
By Amina Nazarli
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