Pre reading task
- What role do holidays play in our life?
- Why do we celebrate holidays?
We have many holidays in Azerbaijan. Some are national, while some are religious holidays. These holidays have fixed dates with the exception of the religious holidays that have movable dates according to the annual religious calendar. Here are some of the pertinent holidays we celebrate in Azerbaijan and reasons why these dates are significant.
National holidays with fixed, non-movable dates
This is a national holiday of Azerbaijan. It is celebrated on 28 May. This holiday commemorates the founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918.
The Declaration of independence of Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was signed on 28 may 1918 in the building of former Palace of the Governor in Tiflis, Georgia.
The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was the first democratic republic in the Muslim world. This fledging nation was-short lived as Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union less than 2 years later. Like most national holidays in the Soviet Union, Republic Day was not celebrated during Soviet times. The holiday was reinstated in 1990 following the collapse of the USSR.
June 15, 1993 is in the history book as the national Salvation Day and this day is valuable for Azerbaijani people. The National Salvation Day 15th of June is celebrated as the return of the former Azerbaijani president Heyday Aliyev from Nakchivan to Baku in 1993. The people welcomed the return of H.Aliyev with hope and joy. Azerbaijan could be saved only by greatness, braveness and devotion in the moment when the state was on the eve of destruction. Heydar Aliyev’s name has entered our history as the Great Rescuer.
Azerbaijan is an Independent and Sovereign state. Independence day is a national holiday for Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijan celebrates October 18 as the Independence Day after regaining it when USSR fell. Thanks to the collapse of Soviet Union, the Azerbaijani people gained the independence for the second time in the 20th century.
On December 31 of every year Azerbaijan celebrates Solidarity Day. This day is celebrated as a day to remember and honor the struggles of the country. The main idea of this holiday is the unity in solidarity all Azerbaijanis from all over the world, to show respect to national values, as well as express a belongingness to the historical homeland.
New Year- is the festive holiday uniting many people of different faiths and races. It is the most remarkable day for the billions of people on the Earth. Millions of people all over the world celebrate this holiday on the night of 31st of December into 1st January. The main attributes of New Year are the New Year tree, Father frost with Snow Maiden. Everybody is patient to accept and to give presents. On this day we see off the old year and welcome the new one with hope and cheer. On the eve, adults prepare themselves in believe that their dreams for the New Year will come true. Azerbaijani celebrates the New Year with concerts, parties, and colorful performances. New Year- is a family holiday and most Azerbaijanis spend it at home with relatives and friends. The table is served with different national food. New Year is a magical holiday, it gives everyone hope for a bright future.
Holidays with movable dates
Ramadan is one of the most important events in the Muslim year. Adult Muslims who are sane and do not have illness must fast from sunrise to sunset. They are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke during this time. When the sun goes down they are allowed to break the fast. By living without everyday comforts, a fasting person better understands the life of poor people who are hungry and grows in his or her spiritual life.
Sacrifice known as Gurban in Azerbaijani is celebrated 70 days after Fasting. On this day people families makes sacrifices of sheep and rams to God, and pray. They ask God for several things and they also have to help the poor. On Gurban holiday every rich Muslim has to make a sacrifice and to distribute it among the poor. Every Muslim family must have meat dish on that day.
Novruz is one of the most favorite and the oldest national holiday. It is celebrated on the 20th of March. Novruz is reawakening of nature. With the coming of Novruz people clean their homes, gardens, yards and do shopping. Novruz is associated with the beautiful green color and is symbolized by the growing of “ samani”. Every family cooks shakarbura, paklava, shorgogal, shaker churak etc. People set up bonfire in the yard and jump over the bonfire. They sing, play and dance. Kosa and Kechal make tricks, jokes and ask for holiday sweets. People light up candles; have tasty dishes and khoncha too. Azerbaijanis celebrate the last four Tuesdays of winter before Novruz, which are known as Ilakhir charshanba. The Tuesdays represent the elements of life-earth, wind, fire and water.
Some keywords to remember: commemorate, fledge, reinstate, devotion, sovereign, regain, collapse, struggle, performances, bonfire, spiritual
Classroom Activity: How do different countries celebrate national and religious holidays? Compare.
Post-reading activities –Questions
- List the national holidays with non-movable dates.
- What are the holidays with movable dates called?
- Why do Azerbaijanis celebrate Salvation day?
- Why do Azerbaijanis celebrate Solidarity day?
- Which holiday signifies greenness, and newness?
- List activities that Azerbaijanis engage in during Novruz holiday?
In what day do Azerbaijanis celebrate New Year?