Встреча Нового Года
|December 25||Christmas||Non-official (but declared a day-off at some companies)||Celebrated by expatriates in Azerbaijan and Catholics and Protestants)|
|New Year Eve||Official||Celebrated allover Azerbaijan|
|January 7||Orthodox Christmas||Non-official||Celebrated by Russian Orthodox Christians|
|January 13||Old New Year||Non-official||Celebrated allover Baku|
|March 20-21||Novruz Bayram (New Year celebration under the Lunar calendar)||Official||Celebrated allover Azerbaijan|
|September||Romeshana||Non-official||Celebrated by Jews of Azerbaijan|
The fact that Christmas is celebrated along with the New Year could seem strange and needs to be explained with reference to history.
In the early XIX century Azerbaijan
was divided between Russian and Iran, that is the Northern Azerbaijan with Baku as the
capital fell under the jurisdiction first of Russia and then of the Soviet Union that
replaced the Empire.
In remonstration to the new order the intellectuals irrespective to their religion kept on celebrating the New Year under the Julian calendar. It fell on January 13 and was named the Old New Year.
In fact, the people of Azerbaijan, mainly Muslim, celebrate the Novruz Bayram in the twentieths of March as the New Year holiday. After Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991 this holiday became the official national holiday (We will write about this great holiday in March).
The Romeshana New Year has been celebrated by the Jewish community of Azerbaijan throughout its entire history and haven't suffered sufficient changes during the last millenium.
The Gregorian Christmas is a relatively new or, rather, forgotten holiday for Azerbaijan. In the late XIX century this holiday was celebrated by foreign industrials and expatriates contributing to the first Azerbaijan oil development. There was a Catholic cathedral (exploded in the 30s along with the Orthodox Church by the communists) and an extensive German community in Baku (mostly deported after the World War started) . The Catholic and Protestant Christmas returned to Baku in 90s when the Caspian Sea oilfields began to be developed and foreign specialists and businessmen flow in the country. December 25 Christmas is not an official holiday but many foreign and joint stock companies declare it to be a day-off. Besides, this holiday is celebrated by a small number of Protestants mostly converted due to the activity of Protestant churches after the Soviet Union collapsed.
The interesting fact is that the fire-worshipping ancestors of today's Azeris celebrated the holiday of Mitra – the god and angel of justice - on December 25.
Only two of the above holidays are celebrates nation-wide and they are New Year and Novruz Bayram.
The New Year
celebration is a family holiday although often held together with friends.
Traditionally a Christmas-tree is decorated in a house at approach of December 31 which is
removed only after the Old New Year passes (13th of January). A necessary attribute of
celebrations are Ded Moroz (Russian) or Shakhta Babah (Azerbaijani) - both of them being a
character like Western Santa Klaus - and his granddaughter Snegurochka (no English
equivalent). They come on the New Year's Eve, give handsels to children and arrange the
party. As a rule, family members and friends gather together on December 31 eve.
Right before the midnight they give a toast to the yester-year. At midnight after the
twelfth clock strike another toast is given to the incoming New Year. Usually they drink a
glass of sparkling wine all types of which bakunians call Champaign, although the
table is abundant with many kinds of other drinks.
The Old New Year celebrations are held quiet and is rather a commemoration of good old traditions.
As you see, the new year celebrations in Baku can last throughout the year. Hospitality, tolerance and internationalism have always been a distinctive feature of a true bakunian. Don't be surprised to see a Muslim at a Christians' table during the January 7 Christmas and a Christian together with Jews during Romeshana.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Merry Orthodox Christmas! Happy Old New Year! Novruz Bayram Mubarak Olsun!
And thus throughout the year………………