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Novruz and Azerbaijan

Novruz plate

Novruz, the “Persian New Year,” is celebrated in late March in Azerbaijan, Iran, and other locations. In Azerbaijan it is “the most important holiday,” said a Christian in Azerbaijan.

Katrina, a 10-year-old girl in Azerbaijan, described Novruz in the following way.

“During the last week before Novruz, kids go door to door, putting their hats on the ground before each door, knocking, and then running to hide. The people who live inside the house open the door, take the hat, and put candy and small treats inside. They close the door, and the kids come rushing back to see what was inside the hat!

“During Novruz, people like to decorate boiled eggs to set on the table. A game that everyone likes to play during Novruz is ‘Yumurta Doyusmek’ or ‘Egg Fighting.’ During this game, two people each take a boiled egg and knock the ends together. Whichever egg did not crack wins the fight.

“Another thing people do for Novruz is grow a plateful of green grass (wheat grass) which they set in the center of a tray surrounded by candies and Novruz treats. My favorite Novruz treat is qogal [go-GHAL], a salty round bread that is very crumbly, and is sort of made in layers.” [See the photo. Click to enlarge. The round, yellow pastries are qogal.]

Most of the people in Azerbaijan are Muslims. But the government does not want radical Muslims to cause trouble. So, officials try to strictly control religious activity. In recent years, laws have made Christian activities and spreading the gospel more difficult.

In many places in the world, there are fewer people who follow Jesus than there are people who do not follow Jesus. A Christian in those places may be the only Christian in their family or town. They are in the minority. But they are not alone! They trust God to be with them when they boldly serve him.