Norouz is the first day of the year according to the Iranian calendar and is a day regarded as the beginning of spring when the sun is on Aries. This first day of the new year is called Norouz, which means ?new day?. Essentially Norouz is the day when the hibernating animals come out from the soil and all the living beings say ?hi? to spring.
According to an ancient calendar the twenty first day of March, which is regarded as the first day of the year and spring, is called Norouz.

Norouz is a wide-spread feast celebrated in the Turkish world in a vast geography extending from the north to the south and the west to the east. All the feasts are believed to have emerged from a religious or a national belief, a common memory of that specific community, or from traditions, feelings or incidents brought about by mother nature effecting people. In Southern Azerbaijan the Norouz celebrations begin on March 21 and generally last for 13 days.

The Norouz Feast is regarded as special by the Southern Azerbaijanis and is one of the oldest traditions. This old tradition is celebrated differently in all the regions in Southern Azerbaijan. The people of Southern Azerbaijan start cleaning their houses in the last days of winter and call this ?house emptying?. It is a tradition to buy new households and clothes for all the members of the family during this occasion. It is also a tradition to wet lentils and wheat and place them on a tray and leave them to become green just a few days before the new year. These vegetables are later cooked and put on the ?Norouz table?. According to an ancient tradition 7 objects starting with the letter S are put on the Norouz table. Each of these objects represents the concepts which we desire the most in our lives.

In Southern Azerbaijan the houses of the mourning relatives and acquaintances are visited and white shirts for men and colorful dresses for women are taken as presents on the Norouz feast. The black dress of the mourning person is changed with the ones brought as presents. What lies beneath this tradition is the earnest desire to start the new year in a cheerful manner. It is a custom in Southern Azerbaijan to visit cemeteries on the last Thursday of the year and to pray for the souls of the dead ones. Just a few hours before the new year the Norouz table opens and a Quran, a clock, a mirror, sardines or hyacinth flower, a fish in a jar, various fruits (especially apple), garlic, vinegar, desserts, coins and similar other materials are placed on it. Finally the time for new year arrives and everyone in the house sits at the table.

While the head of the family sits at the new year table, which is prepared on different hours every year, sends out his heartfelt desire for everyone to have a healthy and a successful year and distributes the ?first money? of the year, which was until then staying in the Quran on the table, to the other members of the family. Later, the young ones visit their elders and as is the custom in every feast, those who have been mad at each other make peace with one another. This traffic between the relatives, acquaintances and neighbors continue for 13 days. These days are even more cheerful for the kids in Southern Azerbaijan because they collect lots of presents and money during this occasion. Among the presents are painted and colored eggs. The people of Southern Azerbaijan regard the 13th day of the feast as ill-omened and try to pass the day out of their homes.

Some Azerbaijani poets like Shah Ismail Khatayi and Fouzuli have many works of art on spring and Norouz. The ?jasmine? flower, which is one of the symbols of Norouz, is attributed great importance in Southern Azerbaijan. There are many folk songs and proverbs on this particular flower. Another flower, which is attributed to the arrival of spring, is a snow flower called ?snowdrop?.

We paint the egg colorfully

We bang them to each other and peel them off

We play with them until we are satisfied

Ali gave me a green purlin

Riza picked up Norouz rose for me


(Our South Azerbaijan)