A Travellerspoint blog

May 2014

Flowers and Art in Azerbaijan

sunny 30 °C

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Last weekend summer temperature finally set in and like a true Norwegian decided to utilize it by spending the weekend outside. (I only have 40-something days left in summer-sun before returning to a more mellow climate in Norway).

So what did I do on these days out? Well we had two festivals in the city, first of all Saturday was "Flower Day" in Azerbaijan and all the parks were elaborately decorated for the occasion. Roses, lilies and all the other flowers I don't know the name of were represented. Flowers were arranged to show pictures, inside archways and to make sculptures.

The other festival is the "Maiden Tower art festival". The maiden tower is a old brick tower situated in the edge of the old city of Baku. It's a symbol of the old city and there are a lot of legends and stories surrounding it. For many months the towers was closed due to restoration, and after nearly a year closed the tower is again accepting visitors to discover its history. On each of the 7 floors you can discover a different theory about the tower and see Baku's development through the past 700 years.

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There are many rivaling stories about the tower, but most of them say it was named after the Khan's daughter. She was a beautiful young maiden who fell in love with a commoner, her father was enraged by this and killed the boy. To make sure this wouldn't happen again, he constructed a tower to hide her away. The unhappy girl despised her prison and anguished for her love, so in desperation she threw herself of the roof and fell to her death where she was reunited with her love.

Now back to the art festival, the festival is an annual celebration of the maiden tower, and it allows international and local artist to paint their version the story. A few dozen mini-maidentowers were represented. Norway was there as well, though I have to say I liked last years contribution more..

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Posted by CamillaS 00:04 Archived in Azerbaijan Tagged flowers summer sightseeing spring baku azerbaijan abroad flower_day maiden_tower art_festival Comments (0)

Happy Novruz

New Year Celebration in Azerbaijan

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The months have flown by and I realize I have neglected updating this blog. But I do have some lovely events and places to catch you up about.

Last month Azerbaijan celebrated new year, better known as the Novruz holiday! The celebration marks the start of springtime and a new year. The preparation started a month before the actual holiday with Fire, Water, Earth and Wind weeks celebrated with bonfires and candles each Tuesday. But the proper celebration started on Holiday eve with a family dinner and Novruz games!

I was surprised to see many similarities of the Norwegian Easter traditions in the Novruz celebration. Easter and Novruz is even celebrated around the same time. Much like the modern Norwegian easter Novruz is a family-centric holiday, its a time to celebrate, eat good food, candy and be with family. Its not religious, but stems from the pre-Islamic period of Azerbaijan and its fire-worshipping traditions.

How to celebrate Novruz?
Eggs, children traditionally paint the eggs colorfully, but if you are a bit lazy just put a stamp or a plastic egg wrapper aroud it. You can also have an egg fight! You and your opponent have one egg each and takes turns trying to crack the others egg. If your egg cracks you loose.

Fire Fire plays a special role in Azeri tradition, and especially during Novruz times. During the dinner candles are lit for each person at the table. But more excitingly are the bonfires that marks the streets! All over the city people make bonfires to jump over. You should jump over it three times while wishing for what you want for the next year; this ensures you are cleansed and ready for the new year.
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Sweets & games It wouldn't be a celebration without sweets. The traditional sweets for this time is Shekibura, Baklava as well as dried fruits and nuts. Children also go to the neighbors knocking the door, quickly running away before they are seen but leaving their hats. The person opening the door should leave sweets in the hat for the children to pick up later

Predicting the Future new years is often a time of reflection and making wishes for the year ahead, and that also plays a part of Novruz. Predictions in particular are important. One way is to sneak up to your neighbors door trying to eavesdrop on their conversation. This will predict what the next year will bring to you. There is also many games and activities for single girls to predict who is their future husband, I didn't manage to take a part of that this year though..

Again I should mention this is not a religious holiday, so its mainly fun and games, but it was a very interesting thing to be a part of, take a look at these clips of some of my celebration of Novruz 2014 :)

Posted by CamillaS 02:23 Archived in Azerbaijan Tagged new year baku azerbaijan abroad celebration living_abroad novruz Comments (0)

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