Holidays & Observances in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a southwest Asian country located between Iran and Russia. It is one of the most liberal states with a majority Muslim population in the world – widely considered the first to have theater and operas. About 93% of the population is Muslim, but it has a small community of Orthodox Christians, most of Armenian or Russian descent. Culturally, Azerbaijan mixes European and Muslim traditions to create its unique identity. This duality is especially visible in holiday celebrations. Because of its Muslim majority, Islamic holidays are an important part of the Azerbaijani way of life. They also celebrate Navruz, the traditional start of spring New Year celebrated by many Islamic countries. Many of their traditions stem from European roots as well. For instance, like many countries near Russia, they also celebrate the Gregorian calendar New Year in a manner that greatly resembles western Christmas traditions. It includes a New Year tree, and a Santa Clause look-alike called Shakhta Babah who brings presents to the children with the help of his granddaughter.