Its a New Year on the Caspian Sea

A most happy Novruz day to everybody who celebrates one of the most ancient rituals in humanity, the feast that marks the beginning of Spring and the New Year for the Zoroastrian faith and still celebrated today by the peoples living around the Caspian Sea and all the way to Asian Steppes and as far as the Mediterranean Shores. 

Legend says that Zoroaster himself created this holiday, and although it is first described in written records only in the 2nd century BC, mentions go as far as the 7th century BC as a celebration of all the nations that made the Persian Empire. 

Regardless of the Soviet attempts to eradicate religious celebrations in its republics such as Christmas and Novruz by replacing them with the 1st of january, this festivity is so rooted that it survived through the repression and continued being celebrated as a mark of identity, roots and desire to feast upon the return of light and warmth. 

In Azerbaijan this is probably the most felt celebration of the year, preparation goes as far as four weeks before Novrus when tuesday nights are lit with bonfire, sometimes with youths jumping across the flames for good health and fortune, and every one of the tuesdays is associated with one of the elements, water, fire, earth and wind. The first concerns the renewal of nature, the second rebirth, the third soil and life and finally wind is what brings spring and paints the trees green. The Zoroastrian faith beliefs God created humans mixing soil and water, made solid by fire, and used wind to give life, hence the sacredness of the components of the Universe. 

Besides fire we see sprouts of what in every household tied in red ribbons and candles lit, eggs are coloured and sweets are baked nonstop in the days before Novruz. Then children place empty hats at the doorstep of their neighbours who have a duty to fill them the sweets, fruit and even little presents. 

Novruz dinner is lush and a lengthy process of eating traditional holiday foot, and somewhere is still alive the tradition where family members throw water on each other, to cleanse away the worries and troubles of the previous year and make a fresh entry into the new one. 

Happy Novruz ! 

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner