Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest in the AZ

So, I have been a bit slack lately about bloging - sorry about that. But there is some exciting stuff happening in Azerbaijan right now. One thing is that it is Novruz! What is Novruz and why should we care, right? Probably what I would be thinking, too. Novruz is, from what I understand, the biggest holiday in Azerbaijan. It is a symbol of the revival of nature as well as spring, according to my nifty Azerbaijan Culture book! It is throughout the entire month of March, marking the last month of winter. Each Tuesday of the month represents a different thing: water, fire, air, and earth. It is a fun time and a lot of guesting (definitely a verb here - going to go visit family and friends). So back to Novruz traditions, firstly, the house gets a hard core cleaning. Secondly, tons of food. Pakhlava, shekerbura, qogal, ploff, and dolma are definitely staples and tons of over stuff is cooked, too. You probably don't know what some of the food are - just know they are amazingly delicious and I am learning how to cook them. Hopefully, after two years I will be able to do it on my own and cook them in the States! Each Tuesday has different traditions that take place. Last Tuesday kids went around to different houses and throw their hats in the house. Why might you ask? Because each house then fills the hats with pastries they made, candy, and fruit. Tons of fun! However my absolute favorite thing is the fire jumping! Yes, you heard right. Each Tuesday everyone builds a bonfire in their yard and everyone jumps it 3 times. I don't know the exact roots of why people jump the fire or why we do it three times, but I was told by one person to think of wish while jumping. There is also a phrase you say while you are jumping, but not sure what it means in English, so I will just leave that out. So for the past two Tuesdays I have been fire jumping! No burnt clothes or shoes yet! I do have pictures, but I will have to post them later because I forgot to bring them with me to the computer. Another neat thing about Norvuz is that everything is shut down for 9 days of holiday - i.e. no work. That is always fun, so starting tomorrow my days will be filled with guesting! Something interesting about the nine days, in order to have nine days in a row off (since the main Norvuz calender day is the 21st - a weekend) the government changed the work schedule so that Sunday the 29th is a normal workday instead of going back to work on the 27th. That has no standing on anything to me(because I have clubs on Saturdays and Sundays anyway), I just thought it was interesting.

Speaking of interesting things the government in Azerbaijan does - yesterday was a big day here politically. I am not in America while the excitement of Obama is happening, I just read about it, but I can say I was living in Azerbaijan when it became a dictatorship. That is pretty exciting! (being sarcastic). Okay, not an exact dictatorship. March 18th was referendum day, where the country voted to on 41 constitutional referendums; the main one being to allow no term limits for the presidency. (Who by the way term's would in 2013, but not anymore since he successfully got the referendum passed.) Another one of the referendums that passed are stricter media restrictions. All very interesting things happening here.

Anyway, I am doing well and healthy. Once I come back to work - starting the last week of March, I will add pictures and more updates of everything going on.


Travis said...

Incase you were wondering: jumping over the fires is an ancient tradition for the cleansing of sins; kind of a hold over from Zoroastrianism.

in other many şəkərbura did you eat?

Hannah said...

Really? I had no idea; that sure puts a differnt view on things.

How much did I eat? lol. way too many? how about you?