Speaking - Part 2
in Azerbaijan - Dates and Description
by Jala Garibova
and Betty Blair
(Go to Sociolinguistically
the TOPICS Section for more articles on language learning.)
One of the most
puzzling aspects of this transition period in Azerbaijan is related
to holidays. Many old Soviet celebrations
have been abolished and replaced by new ones. Naturally people
have trouble keeping everything straight in their minds.
Of course, some holidays seem to survive all eras, regardless
of the political or social changes that take place. For example,
Noruz Bayram (Celebration of Spring-March 20-21) is vibrant today
despite the many prohibitions against it during the Soviet period
[See AI 2.2, Spring 1994, "Noruz
- Celebration That Would Not Die"]
Similarly, International Women's Day, March 8, a holiday closely
associated with Communist ideology, is very much alive today
although all the other Soviet holidays have long since been erased.
Even during the Soviet period, Women's Day had gradually become
disassociated with political ideology. Men seem to enjoy having
an excuse to formally express their admiration to women, whether
it be their mothers, sisters, colleagues or friends.
May First - Solidarity Day for Workers - has not officially survived
since independence although we still have vivid memories of this
holiday. It used to be the "Holiday of All Holidays"
in the Soviet Union with military parades and elaborate concerts
organized at the state level. Signs of festivity could be seen
everywhere. May 1st and 2nd were official holidays from work
and everybody went to the countryside for picnics and cookouts
known as "mayovka" (Russian).
Paying a Visit
always try to visit their parents on a holiday if they happen
not to be living with them. The same goes for aunts and uncles,
grandmas and grandpas. They never go empty-handed. At least,
a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates is always offered.
When Azerbaijanis congratulate their parents or elderly relatives
for the holiday, they hug and kiss them. The younger person initiates
[Note that in the examples below, the plural, more polite form
of the word, is set off by parentheses. It can be substituted
for the singular form which precedes it.]
on the holiday.
on the holiday (plural form)
May you witness so many holidays like this.
You can also
with your children
with your grandchildren
with your great-grand children
I wish you long life.
Add or substitute
the following words:
luck / fortune
It would be
considered impolite to merely say "thank you" and not
return the congratulations. For example:
I also congratulate you on the holiday.
Don't forget other family members:
with your family
with your children
with your spouse
You, together with your family, I wish health.
to send greetings from other members of your own family:
I also congratulate you on behalf of my family.
kiss children and say:
May you grow up to be a big boy!
May you grow up to be a big girl!
May you celebrate so many holidays like this together with your
mother and father!
Don't forget to mention other relatives, depending on the situation,
if they live in the same house.
(Stress the last syllable "la").
mother / father
- grandmother /
- sister / brother
- aunt / uncle
- aunt / uncle
With "so and so", may you celebrate many holidays like
Noruz and New Year's
Noruz is also the celebration of Spring, you can also use the
following greeting at Noruz.
May you see so many springs like this!
often include wishes for the welfare of the entire community
and nation, especially when the country is experiencing severe
social and political difficulties.
May this year's foot be light!
Let's hope for security and peace this year!
Women's Day - March
following the congratulations often entail a compliment emphasizing
I hope you will always be so beautiful!
I hope you will always remain so young!
28 is Azerbaijan's Independence Day. Many politically motivated
holidays have been introduced since independence and, in general,
people are quite confused with the one exception -Independence
Day. Since this is a political holiday, wishes are usually politically
motivated and related to the society in general.
May the day
come that the war ends (referring to the Azerbaijani-Armenian
May the day come that our lands are liberated. (referring
to the nearly 20 percent of territory presently under military
occupation by Armenia).
Ramazan and Gurban
are religious holidays determined by the lunar calendar. Therefore
their dates vary. Such holidays have only become officially recognized
since Independence (1991). It is more usual to congratulate elderly
people rather than young people on these occasions.
may range from a postcard to jewelry. Gifts are usually given
on New Year's Day, Noruz (sometimes also on Ramazan and Gurban)
and Women's Day. It is usual to bring sweets, cookies, traditional
baked goods on Noruz, Ramazan and Gurban.
Men often present perfume to women or, in special cases, jewelry.
Women offer men gifts such as pens, ties and shirts. In the past,
people usually didn't unwrap gifts in front of the giver as it
would be considered irrelevant. But, gradually, this practice
is changing. More and more often these days, opening gifts is
considered the norm and the polite thing to do.
articles in this series,
TOPICs and click on Sociolinguistically Speaking.
From Azerbaijan International (7.1) Spring 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.
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AI 7.1 (Spring 99)
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