November Holidays in Qax

>> Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bayraq Günü - National Flag Day
November 9

The Republic of Azerbaijan had freedom from the Soviet Union for 2 years beginning in 1918. In this time they adopted a flag and the national holiday to celebrate this freedom. It's three colors represent:
Blue - Heritage relating to the Turks
Red - Europeanization
Blue - Loyalty and relation to Islam

Then Azerbaijan was once again a part of the Soviet Union until 1990. At this time the 8-pointed star and half crescent moon of Islam were added.
Konstitusiya Günü - Constitution Day
November 12

There have been roughly 4 Constitution of Azerbaijan but this final one was accepted in 1995. So on this day Azerbaijan celebrates their constitution and yet again their freedom.

Qurban Bayram - Festival of Sacrifice
November 16-17 *rotating

This holiday is rotating but this year it fell on November 16-17 (Which meant I also got Monday the 15th off!) Each year it is 10 days before the last. This holiday is just what it says a Festival of Sacrifice. Sheep are killed and given to the poor and those who need it. This holiday is about being good to your neighbors and keeping God in the front of your mind.
"The religious rite of sacrifice appeared after the case with the Prophet Ibrahim. Ibrahim dreamed that Allah ordered him to sacrifice his son Ismail to test his faith. As a true believer, Ibrahim was ready to execute an instruction of Allah. Ismail himself was ready to become a victim. However, according to Quran, Allah sent a sheep and it was sacrificed. "

Müqəddəs Giorgio Günü - St. George's Day
November 23

That is my own translation as it is a Georgian Holiday. It is highly important as St. George is the the St. of Georgia. This holiday is celebrated twice a year. The first being on May 6th (his birthday) and this one representing the day he slew the dragon. I celebrate this holiday with the Georgians. How awesome is that? We will eat pork and drink wine to honor the Saint who slayed a dragon. Awesome!

The day began with Stephanie and I going up to the working church in Qax to welcome the heads of church from Georgia. It was a full ceremony, absolutely gorgeous. I spent the entire service filming, per the priests request, the beautiful decadence of a full blown religious service.

Here is a woman lighting her candle during the service.
After the service we hopped in a taxi and made our way out the festival site. It's about 30 minutes out of town and the church is on top of the hill looking over the valley of Qax and Şəki. The other, 13, Americans had already made the pilgrimage. So we went to go eat. At the festival grounds there is a wrestling match and a cock-fight. The winning wrestler gets the prize rooster. This part is added by the Azerbaijani's but some Georgians also take part. Wine, pork kebabs and lots of Georgian bread make for a delicious meal.

These are some burning candles you will find on the large rocks (Temple ruins) just outside the church on the top of the hill.
This is what the church looks like a bit earlier in the day when it is pretty populated. You have to walk around the church 3 times, kissing each corner before you enter. Once inside you find a place on the wall to place your 10 candles. The Georgians have 10 candles, each representing a different person: St George, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc. I did a few of the Georgian ones and then added some of my own.
These are our beautiful kebabs. My Georgian hDad made them for us out of hazelnut tree branches. he is so talented! Then he stuck around to teach us how to properly kebab because we're American and we need to know how to do it right. I kept telling him to go back to his friends because he looked bored but he was in crazy Dad-mode and wouldn't leave until it was all over.
Stuffed and ready to go to the church Stephanie models the skewers. They look awesome!


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