March 18, 2009
Novruz, pronounced Nov-ruz is the most popular holiday celebrated in Azerbaijan. The holiday was prohibited for 70 years during Soviet times. Novruz is observed on the first day of Spring, though celebrations begin four weeks before. The four Tuesdays before Novruz are devoted to one of the earth elements – water, fire, earth and wind.
On the last Tuesday – Wind Tuesday people light bonfires and jump over them. It is believed that doing this is an act of purification. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture any pictures of these bonfires because I’m a day behind in my brain and I thought today was Tuesday, which is the whole reason for this Novruz post, which I’d intended to name Windy Tuesday, but St. Patrick’s Day through me a curve…so sorry. I’m sure there will still be bonfire photo ops as this seems to be a Noruz favorite.
One tradition that I’m anxious to witness is the holiday table (because we all know I love food). The table is set with a white cloth to represent purity and the table must have seven items beginning with the letter “s”…
Sumaq (sumac) – for the color of the sun at sunrise
Sumani (wheat sprouts) – sweetness, fertility, having many children
Sikke (coins) – good luck
Su (water) – purity, rebirth and health
Sabzi (vegetable) – purity and good fortune
Sud (milk) – health and natural beauty
Sarikok (yellow ginger) - sweetness in life
Another tradition which I find interesting is ”papag atdi”, meaning hat throwing…this is similar to the American tradition of “trick or treat”. Children visit their neighbors and leavetheir caps or a basket on the door step. The children, knock then hide to see if they will be receive candy, nuts or treats. We didn’t receive any papag atdiers last night and from my understanding this tradition is also supposed to occur on Wind Tuesday….bummer. That would have been kind of fun although I honestly don’t know what I would have given out as treats…
There are many other traditions celebrated with Novruz including not locking doors. On the first day of the NewYear houses are lit all night long because switching off lights is considered bad luck. Novruz is also a time for renewing friendships.
Tomorrow the Embassy will be having a Novruz event (including bonfire) so I’ll be sure to take a picture or two of some of the traditional items. Til then I leave you with this picture
This is a vendor selling the sprouted wheat grass. These are hot items right now. Every Azeri home is guaranteed to have at least one so why not make the most of it.
Lastly, this has nothing to do with Novruz, but here’s a picture of Missy “the I”ve just been knitting for 3 weeks and I already have 4 projects cast on knitter” sporting her first finished object – a garter stitch scarf made with a gifted skein of Lion Brand Homespun. You go girl!
March 8, 2009
Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. This is a holiday that I hadn’t heard of until I moved overseas. It is is considered a major holiday. Tomorrow the Embassy will be closed to honor the holiday. The Embassy celebrates not only US Holidays, but many major local holidays as well.
Sometimes I feel like we as Americans don’t learn enough about international culture. I’m pretty good with my Women’s History and I didn’t know that New Zealand was the first country to award women the right to vote, in 1893! Yet another reason to love New Zealand…number one being sheep of course! For more history behind the holiday please visit this link. If you are an international reader of my blog (this includes expats) I’d love to hear how you will be spending your day.
How will I celebrate International Women’s Day? I will be spending the day relistening to Advanced Nutrition lectures on pre/probiotics, fiber, lipids, and carbohydrates and completing my first test for my class.
Hopefully we’ll go out for dinner, if not my favorite restaurant delivers and if that doesn’t satisfy the hubby there is leftover lasagna and salad in the fridge from last night. I’m taking the day off!
I’ll leave you with this picture that I took on Friday. I’m sure this woman has a few stories to tell!
December 6, 2008
Yesterday I mentioned that we have a long weekend this weekend. The long weekend is to commemorate the National Azeri holiday called Gurban Bayram. Gurban Bayram is celebrated 70 days after the end of Ramazan Bayram (the month of fasting).
This holiday is tied to the Biblical story of Abraham, who wants to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. In the end, God sends the archangel Gabriel with a lamb and saves Abraham’s son. To commemorate this day, Muslim’s must sacrifice (gurban) a sheep or some other animal. They read prayers during the sacrifice and the meat is given to the poor.
December 29, 2007
I have wanted to try a turducken for the past few years, but it just hasn’t been in the cards (cost, deployment, etc). This year it’s out of the question because of shipping.
A turducken is a chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed into a turkey. I had read about them on the net and John Madden talks about them now and then during football.
We needed something to send to my parents for the holidays and decided to send them a turducken. Of course, I had to tell them that we were sending dinner and asked if they would like the gift for Christmas or New Years. They selected New Years.
My mom called today to say that the turducken had arrived, they plan to eat on Sunday. I asked her to take a picture so I’ll be sure to post it when she sends it to me.
December 5, 2007
Seveal weeks ago I reconnected with an old high school classmate (Ruth). Ruth invited me to join her in a blogging journal group called Thirty Voices . I was thrilled at the thought of actually having a weekly commitment so I inquired about joining the group and was accepted.
Each week there is a Posting Challenge which we can either accept or chose to write about when inspired to do so. Since I’m new to the group I am kind of in catch up mode. Today I accepted the Posting Challenge question #11
This is what I wrote…
My favorite holiday? Without a doubt Christmas! I love the sparkle, the colors, the smells. I love the television shows, the movies, the music. I love the symbolism, the meaning and the stories, but the thing I love most about Christmas is the Christmas tree.
We have had an artificial tree for the past few years but I especially love going to the Christmas tree farm in the cold with a cup of hot chocolate, walking around and picking out my own tree. Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes. The right tree will speak to you. I always know “the one” when I see it.
Perhaps I love Christmas trees because I also love Christmas ornaments. When I was a child it was a tradition to receive an ornament every year. By the time I moved away from home, I had enough ornaments to decorate my very first tree. Decorating the tree for some is a burden, but for me it is a time of reflection, and remembrance. I love taking the ornaments out of their bubble wrap protection and just looking at them. Each ornament holds a precious memory of a friend or family member. It takes time to walk around the tree and select just the right place for the ornament. I want them to hang just right, have just the right amount of light and greenery around them. With an artificial tree it makes it easy because the branches move, a real tree is a bit more of a challenge. Sometimes the right ornament for a space needs to be purchased or crafted.
Of all my ornaments, my favorite is a little yellow rubber reindeer who has lost his hanging device, the paint from his nose and one eye. Despite all of these imperfections, this little guys still manages to find his way to my tree every year. My sister and I used to move him around on the tree to see if the other person could find him. My tree just wouldn’t be the same without this little guy. This year his is straddling a branch with his nose very close to a red light to mimic a “red nose”.
I decorated my tree yesterday, I thought about my Grammy, my parents, my sister, my nephew, my Aunt, Meesie and Fooie, Jeanne, Tracy, Alan Neville, Maureen Gill and many other special people. Memories included my first Christmas with my husband, our first Christmas as a married couple, Hooch opening Christmas presents, Sheba and Haley sitting in the Christmas tree, and spending last Christmas with my family while my husband was in Iraq. Next year I’m sure that when I decorate my tree I will think back to this Christmas, this post and remember that I’m living in Belarus, learning Russian and missing my family and friends.
Enjoy this picture of Rudy!