Novruz is Azerbaijan’s most cherished holiday, which marks the arrival of spring. This year, the coming of spring fell on 8:30AM on March 20 in Baku.
Workers receive five days off during Novruz festivities. Since the beginning of Novruz fell on Sunday, Azerbaijanis will get Friday (March 25) off, which will make it a nine-day break.
For observing nations, Novruz symbolizes the awakening of nature, and celebrants mark it as the beginning of the new year. Since ancient times, the Azerbaijani Turks, along with nations from Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and others, have celebrated spring as the New Year.
Novruz, which means “new day” in Persian, was not an official holiday during the Soviet Union. While there were brief attempts to recognize Novruz as a holiday in the Soviet era, the holiday did not receive full recognition until the late 1980s.
Except for the brief time when Nariman Narimanov headed the Soviet Azerbaijan (May 1920 to May 1921), the first time the importance of celebrating Novruz on a state level was raised by Abrurrahman Vazirov, the first Secretary of the Communist party of Azerbaijan during the XXII congress session in January 1958.
In 1967, the Secretary of the Central Committee, Shix-Ali Gurbanov initiated and supported organization of Novruz celebrations.
After Shix-Ali Gurbanov died, Novruz was no longer celebrated. In 1988, Abdurahman Vezirov was appointed the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party. That was when the celebration of Novruz started anew.
On September 30, 2009, UNESCO included Novruz on the list of intangible cultural heritages. On February 23, 2010, the United Nations declared March 21 as the “International Novruz Day.”
Azerbaijanis usually celebrate Novruz in family circles, gather around the holiday table and feast. This year, however, celebrations are marred by the worsening economic conditions.
Novruz festivities have become more expensive this year.
reported that the costs associated with celebrating Novruz have increased by 38% this year. In 2015, a family of four would spend 60 manats on the celebratory dinner, according to Turan. This years, it costs an average family 86 manats to prepare the Novruz dinner, which amounts to 15.7% of the monthly minimum wage. Last year, the holiday preparations cost about 12% of the monthly minimum wage.
Azerbaijan witnessed two major devaluations of the national currency within one year, which took a heavy toll on citizens’ purchasing power.