At the state level, Novruz is marked in the Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Albania, and Macedonia.
In 2009, Novruz was included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Ever since, 21 March was declared International Day of Nowruz.
Novruz has been marked in Azerbaijan for five to six millennia now. A ban on celebrations, which was lifted in 1988, existed in Soviet times.. Since the day Azerbaijan gained independence, the official Novruz holiday season has been five days long. This year, the holiday season includes the period between 20 March and 28 March. However, Azerbaijanis spent these eight days at home due to the quarantine because of the coronavirus.
How is Novruz normally marked?
Preparations for Novruz begin a month in advance. Tuesdays are celebrated in the run-up to the holiday. The first Tuesday of Novruz – “Su Chershenbesi” (Water Tuesday) – falls on the last Tuesday of February. It is followed by “Od Chershenbesi” (Fire Tuesday) and “Yel Chershenbesi” (Wind Tuesday).
According to old beliefs, on “Water Tuesday” rivers are freed from their icy cover, on “Fire Tuesday” bonfires need to be made to warm the earth. On “Wind Tuesday” the breath of spring renews our spirit and, finally, on the last Tuesday the earth awakens from winter. It is believed that on the last Tuesday, soil is ready to be cultivated and sowing can begin. The last pre-Novruz chershenbe is marked on the last pre-holiday Tuesday. This year it fell on 17 March.
Since the holiday originates from fire worship, fire is one of the main symbols of Novruz. On all pre-Novruz Tuesdays and on the actual holiday evening, it is customary to make bonfires as dusk sets in and jump over them while uttering the words, “let all my hardships burn in the fire.”