Today is World Blog Surf Day, an event organied by Sher over at Czech Off the Beaten Path, where expat bloggers from all over the world,come together on the same day, write on the same theme, and then link their blogs to form a chain of blog posts that will let you “travel” the world from the comfort of your own home! The theme for 2009 is Holidays and Celebrations.
Soon after we moved to Azerbaijan we were introduced to the holiday of Novruz or Novruz Bayram, a celebration of the Spring Equinox. Rooted in Zoroastrianism, it dates back 3,000 years and has survived both Arab and Soviet attempts to destroy it. It’s a holiday that’s celebrated throughout Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran. You’ll see it spelled Nowrooz, Nowruz, Noruz, or even No Ruz and in Azerbaijan it’s celebrated every March 21st.
Our first introduction to it was the repeated ringing of our Baku apartment doorbell one Wednesday evening, quickly followed by the sound of running feet and giggling. When I opened the door a wool cap was lying on my doormat but the owner had vanished. I had no idea what was going on and assumed that as newly arrived foreigners we were just being teased by the local kids. Imagine how bad I felt when I found out we were supposed to fill the cap with candy and that this was one of the traditions leading up to the most popular local holiday.
In fact the four Wednesdays prior to Novruz are all special days, named for the four elements, Water, Fire, Earth and Air, with the last one being the most celebrated. As well as the “trick or treating” small bonfires are lit in yards and on sidewalks all over the city and people leap over them 7 times in order to purify themselves. Even small children, much to the horror of western mothers like me.
At home the house is spring cleaned and everyone is kitted out with a new set of clothes. One of the best things about holidays in my opinion is that they’re usually accompanied by special food. Novruz is no exception with a heavy focus on sweets and cakes (yum!). In addition there is a special plov (a rice dish with meat, dried fruits and nuts) and the table is decorated with plates of freshly sprouted wheat grass, candles, coloured eggs, fruits and nuts.
On Novruz morning in Baku everybody heads downtown to Fountain Square where there’s a huge open air concert featuring local singers and traditional dances. Generally everyone has a few days off work and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
And now I will introduce you to the next blogger in the chain, Colin over at Exile Lifestyle, who at the age of 24 has decided to step outside of his native North America for the first time and travel the world while also running his virtual own business. This is going to be a fascinating blog!
Also why not follow our official World Blog Surf Day Twitter reporter Karen, the Empty Nest Expat, an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said, “Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing–and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic.”