Nauryz Celebration: A festive farewell to winter and welcome to spring’s arrival

Mother Earth is finally ready to say goodbye to winter and eagerly waits for the spring season to come. With the changing of the seasons also comes a sense of renewal and anticipation, as nature awakens from its slumber and steps forward with vibrant colors and new life. It is a time to say goodbye for a while to the cherished moments of winter and embrace the warmth of spring.

 In Kazakhstan, spring crowds out winter and fully comes into its own on March 21 – it is on this special day that Nauryz (or Nowruz) is celebrated, which marks not only the spring equinox (when the day and night are of equal length) but also the renewal of nature. Nauryz symbolises fruitfulness, friendship, and love. On this day, people dress vividly, go to visit family and friends and keep sending good wishes to each other. According to the UNESCO website, a celebration of Nauryz marks the inextricable connection of creation with natural cycles of renewal. In other words, for the eastern nations, Nauryz is the same as the New Year, because both holidays are considered the precursor of new life. 

Nauryz is considered as one of the oldest holidays, which appeared about five thousand years ago. In the sacred book of Zoroaster’s doctrine, the day of the vernal equinox had the status of the beginning of a new year. Hence, the holiday was dedicated to fire as a life force, which is partially preserved in modern rituals. The celebration of the end of winter, the threshold of spring and the commemoration of the souls of ancestors took place during the ancient Persian dynasty and spread in the cultures of Western and Central Asia under different names (Nauryz, Nowruz, Nooruz).

The presence of the traditional dish Nauryz-kozhe on every festive table is considered indispensable on Nauryz. Kazakhs believe that on the Nauryz holiday, you need to eat your fill of this dish, and then the year will pass in abundance. Nauryz-kozhe is a hearty, rich soup that is prepared from seven ingredients: meat, water, flour, butter, millet, salt, and milk. Each component of this dish symbolizes one of the seven principles of life: growth, luck, happiness, wealth, health, wisdom, and heavenly protection respectively. The number seven is of particular importance in the celebration of Nauryz – seven ingredients in Nauryz-kozhe, which are then poured into seven bowls and placed in front of the wise elders. Everyone must invite seven guests to their home and be sure to visit seven houses themselves.

On this day, everyone greets each other with the words “Happy Birth Day of Spring!” and “Congratulations on the Nauryz holiday, let there be abundance”. Long-standing traditions create the atmosphere of the Kazakh feasts throughout the country: at dawn, people start to clear springs and plant trees to perform traditional rituals. By noon, the table is served: the more generous the treats, the more prosperous the year will be. Before and after the meal prayers are read in honor of the ancestors. Then comes the time for entertainment, games, and competitions. The celebration is accompanied by special songs, performances, theatrical skits, and competitions.

It is crucial to prepare for the holiday morally – to repent of sins and forgive offenses. By the day of renewal, people strive to complete the work they have started, to repay debts so that in the new year there will be happiness and prosperity. The national holiday Nauryz harmoniously fits into modernity, preserving ancient customs. The people’s treasury has presented traditions and rituals that are revered by the new generation.

Reference list 

  1. [Celebrating Nauryz in Kazakhstan]. 
  2. [Nauryz New Year]. 
  3. [Nauryz five thousand years ago: people put on hats of the sun and night and danced in circles].