Monday, July 2, 2012


Because Azerbaijan is a secular nation, there are very few holidays that are religious based. The majority of holidays and celebrations are based on historical events and cultural events.

New Years Day. January 1-2.  Even though the majority of people consider themselves Muslim, New Years traditions in Azerbaijan are similar in many ways to Christmas celebrations elsewhere.  They have their own version of Santa Claus who comes on New Year’s Eve to bring children presents. People will cook and clean all day in preparation for the celebration. Family and friends will gather in the evenings for music and dancing and fireworks celebrations.

Martyr’s Day. January 20. In memory of those who were killed in the Black January events.  It was a violent response from the Soviets against those Azerbaijanis who were standing up against them for independence. There are some discrepancies in the numbers, but some reports claim that 93 Azerbaijanis and 29 Soviets died, as well as 90 wounded in the fighting.

International Women’s Day. March 8. Women in Azerbaijan are technically included to be equal in the country, but in reality, it’s more than likely not the case entirely. Women’s Day was adopted in Azerbaijan as a means of building up women’s rights and presenting other women’s issues at hand.

Spring Festival/Novruz. March 19-27. The holiday lasts five full working days, plus the two weekends surrounding it. It originally came from Iran, where it was considered the beginning of the year. It’s now part of a Spring festival. People celebrate each of the four elements: earth, wind, fire, water. They plant trees and plants, make new clothes, sing, dance, and eat several different types of national dishes.

Victory Day. May 9. It’s to celebrate victory over the Nazi forces. Azerbaijanis fought alongside the Russian forces. There are a lot of memorial services around this time.

Republic Day. May 28. It’s the day that Armenia and Azerbaijan declared independence from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.

National Salvation Day. June 15. It’s the holiday to celebrate the return of President Haydar Aliyev from the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic back to Baku in 1993. He’s considered by many as the “Great Rescuer” of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan Armed Forces Day. June 26. This is in honor of their military forces.

Flag Day. November 9. A day to honor the flag. The Azerbaijani flag consists of three stripes, blue on top, red in the middle, and green on the bottom. There’s a white crescent and an eight-pointed star in the middle of the red stripe.

International Solidarity Day. December 31. It’s a holiday that celebrates the solidarity and coming together of Azerbaijanis all across the world.

Ramazan Bayram. Varies. Ramazan Bayram is the Azerbaijani term for the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr. This is the holiday that is celebrated with vast feasts after the fasting month of Ramadan.

Gurban bayram. Varies. It’s the Festival of Sacrifice. It’s also known as Eid al-Adha in Arabic. During this time, many people will make pilgrimages. People who don’t travel will often sacrifice an animal and give part of its meat to the needy.

There are a number of other holidays that are celebrated but are still considered normal working days:  Day of Azerbaijani Customs (January 30), Day of Youth in Azerbaijan (February 2), Day of Revenue Service (February 11), Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Khojaly Massacre (February 26), Day of Physical Culture and Sport (March 5), Day of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (March 23), Day of National Security (March 28), Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis (March 31), Day of the Builder (April 10), Flower Festival (May 10), Day of Civil Aviation (June 2), Day Reclamation (June 5), Human Rights Day (June 18), Day of the Gas Sector (June 20), Day of Azerbaijani Police (July 2), Day of the Employees of Diplomatic Service (July 9), National Press Day (July 22), Day of Azerbaijani language and alphabet (August 1), National Day of Azerbaijani cinema (August 2), Day of Knowledge (September 15), Day of National Music (September 18), Day of Azerbaijani Oil (September 20), Day of Prosecutors in Azerbaijan (October 1), Day of Azerbaijani Railroads (October 13), Independence Day from Soviet Union (October 18), Day of Baku Metro (November 8), Constitution Day (November 12), Day of Justice of Azerbaijan (November 22), Day of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (December 6), Day of Ministry of Emergency Situations (December 16)

Up next: Art and Literature

Wikipedia: “Public holidays in Azerbaijan” “Black January” “Novruz in Azerbaijan” “Republic Day”

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